Japanese astronaut welcome on NASA lunar Gateway, Biden says
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President Biden said that NASA's Gateway outpost will welcome a Japanese astronaut.
"In recent years, the alliance between Japan and the United States has grown stronger, deeper and more capable as we work together to take on new challenges – just as important as the opportunities – of a rapidly changing world," Biden said in Tokyo on Monday. "A great example of this: We viewed Japan's lunar rover… a symbol of how our space cooperation is taking off, looking towards the Moon and to Mars. And I'm excited about the work we'll do together on the Gateway station around the Moon and look forward to the first Japanese astronaut joining us in the mission to the lunar surface under the Artemis program."
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The president and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also confirmed their commitment to seeing a future Japanese astronaut land on the moon as part of the agency's ambitious Artemis program.
The Gateway will be an outpost that orbits the moon, providing vital support for a long-term human return to the lunar surface.
It is also a staging point for deep space exploration.
NASA said in a release that the U.S. and Japan are working to formalize the Japanese astronaut’s inclusion on Gateway through an implementing arrangement later this year.
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NASA has focused Gateway development on the initial critical elements required to support the landing, including the Power and Propulsion Element, the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) and logistics capabilities.
SpaceX will provide the launch services for PPE and HALO and – after integration on Earth – PPE and HALO are set to launch no earlier than November 2024.
Gateway's international partners include the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
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"Our shared ambition to see Japanese and American astronauts walk on the Moon together reflects our nations’ shared values to explore space responsibly and transparently for the benefit of humanity here on Earth," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. "With this historic announcement, President Biden is once again showing nations throughout the world that America will not go alone but with like-minded partners. Under Artemis, it’s our intention to invest in and explore the cosmos with countries that promote science, economic opportunity and a common set of shared values."
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In addition, the leaders reaffirmed their nations' continued cooperation on Earth science data and America's intention to provide Japan with a sample from the asteroid Bennu in 2023.
In 2021, Japan provided the United States with an asteroid sample collected by JAXA's Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission.
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