NASA and Japan Sign “JEDI” Declaration on Future Space Cooperation

NASA and Japan Sign “JEDI” Declaration on Future Space Cooperation

NASA and the Japanese ministry that oversees the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) signed a declaration of intent today to further cooperate in space activities. The Joint Exploration Declaration of Intent (JEDI) describes future cooperation in the International Space Station (ISS) and lunar programs, but makes no commitments on either side.

JAXA reports to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and MEXT Minister Koichi Hagiuda signed the agreement in a virtual meeting this evening Eastern Daylight Time (Friday morning in Japan).

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (on screen) and Government of Japan Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Koichi Hagiuda hold copies of a Joint Exploration Declaration of Intent (JEDI) signed during a virtual meeting on July 9 (July 10 Japan time), 2020. Credits: Department of State/Stephen Wheeler

Japan has been a partner in the International Space Station (ISS) program since its beginning as Space Station Freedom in the 1980s.  Its Kibo (Hope) module, also called the Japan Experiment Module (JEM), is one of three scientific laboratories on the U.S. Operating Segment.  Kibo is probably best known for it “back porch,” a portion that is exposed to space and the launching pad for nanosatellites that are ejected into orbit from ISS.  Japan also resupplies the ISS using its HTV cargo spacecraft.

NASA is talking to all the ISS partners, which also include Canada, Europe, and Russia, about participating in the Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon and establish a sustainable presence there for scientific research and resource utilization.

Just over a year ago, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Trump agreed on expanded human space exploration.  Japan has expressed interest in participating in the Gateway, the small space station that will orbit the Moon and support surface activities, and in building a pressurized rover for the surface.

One of the first two elements of the Gateway is the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO).  NASA recently signed a contract with Northrop Grumman for HALO, but international partners including Japan may provide some of its components.  In the longer term, an international habitation module, iHAB, is planned that also could involve a contribution from Japan.

JAXA also signed an agreement with Toyota in 2019 to design, test and build a lunar rover to accommodate crews with a tentative plan to launch it in 2029.

In signing the declaration of intent today, Bridenstine said  “We appreciate Japan’s strong support for Artemis and look forward to extending the robust partnership that we have enjoyed on the International Space Station to cis-lunar space, the lunar surface, and beyond.”

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