NASA, JAXA sign joint statement of cooperation on space exploration

William H. Gerstenmaier and Takashi Hamazaki (right). Image courtesy of JAXA.

On 24 January 2018, Japan’s space agency JAXA and NASA signed a joint statement affirming their continued interest in cooperation on space exploration, as a product of the Japan-U.S. Summit held in November 2017.

The joint statement was presented by Takashi Hamazaki, Vice President and Director General for Human Space Flight Technology Directorate, JAXA, and William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, NASA.

Centred on manned space exploration, the two agencies agreed to recognize each others’ work on various missions, including existing ones such as collaborating on the International Space Station (ISS).

The statement also specifically mentioned future missions, including the Deep Space Gateway, a cislunar space station project initiated by NASA and involving ESA, Roscosmos, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). In the joint statement, JAXA agreed to recognize the project, which is slated to begin in the early 2020s.

JAXA also agreed to recognize the Deep Space Gateway, along with NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, as a fundamental step to realizing human presence on Mars.

Japan and the U.S. have had a long-standing relationship in space, beginning in 1969 with the establishment of “The Japan-U.S. Joint Communique”. Besides the ISS, the two countries have collaborated on numerous projects, including Hitomi, an X-ray astronomy satellite that was launched in 17 February 2016 and was lost a month later, which carried two NASA soft X-ray telescopes.

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