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NASA and Japan Sign Agreement for Lunar Rover

Moon image from NASA on Unsplash. Credit NASA
Credit NASA

Ibadan, 12 April 2024. – NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Masahito Moriyama have signed an agreement to advance sustainable human exploration of the Moon. As a result, Japan will design, develop, and operate a pressurized rover for crewed and uncrewed exploration on the Moon. On the other hand, NASA will provide the launch and delivery of the rover to the Moon as well as two opportunities for Japanese astronauts to travel to the lunar surface.

The pressurized lunar rover is intended to enable astronauts to travel farther and work for longer periods on the lunar surface. This is because an enclosed and pressurized rover will enable astronauts to conduct science in geographically diverse areas by serving as a mobile habitat and laboratory for the astronauts to live and work for extended periods of time. It will be able to accommodate two astronauts for up to 30 days as they traverse the area near the lunar South Pole. NASA currently plans to use the pressurized rover on Artemis VII and subsequent missions over an approximate 10-year lifespan.

The arrangement falls under the “Framework Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America for Cooperation in Space Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, For Peaceful Purposes,” which both parties signed in January 2023 and recognizes the nations’ mutual interest in peaceful exploration. The framework agreement also facilitates a broad swath of joint activities between the countries, including space science, Earth science, space operations and exploration, aeronautical science and technology, space technology, space transportation, safety, mission assurance, and much more.

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