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Cooperation with JGC Corporation on the concept of a lunar ISRU plant has started

  • International Space Exploration
We are pleased to inform you that JAXA and JGC Corporation held an online ceremony on June 21, 2021, for the signing of a cooperation agreement to study the concept of a Lunar ISRU Plant. It will enable the supply of propellants (hydrogen and oxygen) near and on the lunar surface. The cooperation period is one year.

In this cooperation agreement, we will study the concept of the lunar ISRU plant utilizing the water-ice resources of the moon, identify the technical elements and research agendas necessary to achieve the concept, and examine the research and development plan. Through this cooperation agreement, JAXA will aim to achieve sustainable exploration activities on the lunar surface after the 2040s.

※A lunar ISRU plant
A lunar ISRU plant is a facility that extracts the water contained in the sand (regolith) on the lunar surface and produces liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that are used as fuel for lunar landers and spacecrafts. The plant is positioned in the lunar surface exploration roadmap of JAXA as a core system necessary for sustainable exploration activities after 2040s.

Comment from Junichi Sakai, Director of the Human Spaceflight Technology Center

JAXA is proceeding with technical and international coordination to aim for future sustainable exploration activities on the lunar surface. We are very happy, and it is encouraging that JGC Corporation will work together with JAXA on studying the concept to achieve the construction of a lunar ISRU plant. A lunar ISRU plant is a necessary core system for sustainable exploration activities after the 2040s, and we will strive to work on studying the technical matters by concentrating our technological capabilities.

JAXA’s sustainable exploration activities

About international space exploration and lunar surface exploration scenarios

Expanding human activities to the Moon and then to Mars requires sustainable and feasible space exploration plans. In the early 2000s, the U.S. and our other international partners began discussing human space exploration plans. In 2018, the 2nd International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF2)※1 hosted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan and attended by representatives of more than 40 countries and organizations, confirmed that explorations of the Moon, Mars, and the rest of the solar system are widely shared goals and, therefore, sustainable exploration is the key. The International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG)※2 whose membership now comprises 26 space agencies, is discussing a roadmap for internationally coordinated space exploration. JAXA is continuously studying the scenarios for international space exploration in conjunction with the discussions at the ISECG. In October 2019, the Government of Japan decided to participate in the Artemis program, an international space exploration program proposed by the U.S. JAXA is now studying for contributions on the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (Gateway) and the establishment of a basis for sustainable lunar exploration.

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International space exploration roadmap envixioned by JAXA (as of June 28, 2021) © ️JAXA

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