Japan Supports the ISS Through 2030 and Expands Support for the Lunar Gateway

Image (Credit): Graphic showing Lunar Gateway elements from commercial and international partners. (NASA)

Late last week, the White House announced that Japan plans to support the operations of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030 as well as further collaborate with the United States on the Artemis Lunar Gateway platform that will orbit the Moon.

On November 17, Vice President Kamala Harris stated:

The United States welcomes Japan’s intention to extend its support of International Space Station (ISS) operations through 2030, following the United States’ announcement of our ISS extension one year ago. In addition, our two countries are taking a step forward by reaching an agreement on collaboration on the Lunar Gateway orbiting platform, which will pave the way for the return of humanity to the Moon.

Under a previous agreement that has been expanded further, Japan’s JAXA has promised a number of contributions to the Lunar Gateway, including:

  • Critical components of the International Habitation (I-HAB) module that will provide the heart of the Gateway space station’s life support capabilities, as well as space for crew to live, conduct research, and prepare for lunar surface activities during Artemis missions. Japan will provide I-HAB’s Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), thermal control system functions, and cameras.
  • Batteries for I-HAB, the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module, the initial crew cabin for astronauts visiting the Gateway, and the European System Providing Refueling Infrastructure and Telecommunication (ESPRIT) refueling module.
  • The JAXA HTV-XG spacecraft for launch and delivery of a logistics resupply mission for Gateway, scheduled for no later than 2030.

With the successful start of Artemis I lunar mission, it is good to hear that partner nations are increasing their support for a return to the Moon as well as plans to travel to Mars. While the United States went to the Moon alone last century, the Artemis partnership ensures this century’s return to the Moon is an international project.