Japan wants to put a man on the moon, accelerating Asian space race

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Story highlights

  • China and India also have bold lunar exploration plans
  • Japan hopes to be part of international moon mission

(CNN)Japan plans to put a man on the moon around 2030, according to a new proposal by the government's Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

It is the first time JAXA has revealed an intention to send Japanese astronauts beyond the International Space Station, and it will mostly likely be part of an international mission, the agency said.
    The announcement from Japan Wednesday is just the latest in a series of ambitious space exploration plans by Asian countries, with the increasing competition for space-related power and prestige in the region echoing that of the Cold War space race of the mid-20th century.
    In December 2016, China announced plans to land a rover on Mars by 2020 as well as a manned mission to the Moon at some point in the future.
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    In the first half of 2018, India plans to launch its second unmanned lunar mission -- in 2008, it became the fourth country to plant its flag on the moon after the US, Russia and China.
    For now, Indian manned missions aren't being pursued. India sent a probe to Mars in 2014.

    Multinational mission

    The JAXA proposal was put to a panel at Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which is in charge of the direction of the country's space exploration.
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    A spokesman for JAXA told CNN the new plan wasn't to send an exclusively Japanese rocket to the Moon, which would be extremely costly, but rather to contribute to a multinational manned lunar probe.
    By contributing technology, JAXA would hope to be allotted a space on the mission, which would begin preparation in 2025.
    The spokesman told CNN a plan for Japan's future space exploration would be released by the panel in time for Japan's International Space Exploration Forum in March 2018.