“Space is not only a border that gives people hopes and dreams, but it also provides a crucial basis for our economic society with regard to our economic security,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a meeting to finalize the plan.
According to the draft schedule of the plan, Japan aims to send the first non-American to the moon under the Artemis program, a US-led initiative that aims to return astronauts to the moon.
The plan also spells out Japan’s aspirations to launch a probe to explore Mars in 2024, as well as to find ways to generate solar electricity in space.
Neighboring China is also aiming to become a major space power by 2030, and it also plans to send astronauts to the moon, raising the prospect of an Asian space race.
In May, China became the second country to install a rover on Mars, two years after the first spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon.
Japan’s announcement of its space exploration goals comes a week after Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa returned to Earth after spending 12 days aboard the International Space Station, becoming the first space tourist to visit the ‘ISS in over a decade.
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