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Japan reveals its plans to send a manned mission to the moon

The space race may have begun with two major participants in the form of the United States and the Soviet Union (since reduced to Russia), but now, decades later, there are many more contenders for the title of top dog in the extraterrestrial regions. According to a new report from CNN, Japan is looking to put a man on the moon by 2030, perhaps putting the nation in direct competition with its nearby Asian neighbor, China.

The plans for lunar travel were revealed by a new and ambitious proposal by the government’s Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The proposal was submitted by a panel at Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, CNN reported, which oversees the goals and missions of Japan’s space exploration program.

However, Japan isn’t necessarily looking to take all the glory for itself. Rather, according to a JAXA spokesperson, the hope is for a multinational manned lunar probe to reach the moon sometime in the next several years. After all, having several countries bear the cost of what would likely be an expensive mission is an economical way to advance science without depleting the coffers.

Japan would contribute the technology needed to send the spacecraft to the moon, and preparations for such a mission would be slated to begin in 2025. A more detailed plan for the future of Japan’s goals beyond this planet are set to be released before Japan’s International Space Exploration Forum in March 2018.

This marks the first time that JAXA has made public any plans to have Japanese astronauts explore space beyond the International Space Station. But it’s just one of several far-reaching plans Asian countries have recently set forth.

For example, in December of last year, China announced its own intentions to send a rover to Mars by 2020, and a manned moon mission in the coming years, too.

And India has plans of its own, too — after becoming the fourth country to visit the moon in 2008, it hopes to send a second unmanned mission to the moon in the first half of 2018.

So buckle up, friends. It looks like we’re in for quite an exciting ride to space in the near future.

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