Japanese Astronaut to be 1st Non-American to Set Foot on Moon

MARTIN, OHIO - APRIL 08: The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Martin Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP
MARTIN, OHIO - APRIL 08: The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Martin Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP
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Japanese Astronaut to be 1st Non-American to Set Foot on Moon

MARTIN, OHIO - APRIL 08: The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Martin Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP
MARTIN, OHIO - APRIL 08: The moon passes in front of the sun during a solar eclipse on April 08, 2024 in Martin Ohio. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

A lucky Japanese astronaut will become the first non-American to set foot on the Moon during one of NASA's upcoming Artemis missions, US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.

The offer to Japan -- an opportunity many nations have long dreamed of -- came as part of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's state visit, and as Washington seeks to strengthen ties with its key Asian ally.

"Two Japanese astronauts will join future American missions, and one will become the first non-American ever to land on the Moon," Biden said in a press conference with Kishida, according to Agence France Presse.

Kishida hailed the announcement as a "huge achievement" and announced that Japan would in return supply a rover for the program.

NASA's Artemis program seeks to return humans to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years, and to build a sustained lunar presence ahead of potential missions to Mars.

Between 1969 and 1972, the US Apollo program saw 12 Americans -- all white men -- walk on the Moon.

NASA previously announced that the Artemis program would see the first woman and the first person of color land on the Moon.

"America will no longer walk on the Moon alone," NASA chief Bill Nelson said in a video published on social media.

"Diplomacy is good for discovery. And discovery is good for diplomacy," he added.

The first mission to take astronauts to the lunar surface, Artemis 3, is planned for 2026. China meanwhile has said it seeks to put humans on the Moon by 2030.

Japan's space agency JAXA is "extremely happy" about the announcement, a spokesman told AFP.

"We will do our best to implement the agreement," including developing the rover for the program, he said.



King Charles to Take Part in Official Birthday Celebrations

FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
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King Charles to Take Part in Official Birthday Celebrations

FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)

King Charles III will take part in his official birthday celebrations in a little over two weeks, as the monarch eases his way back into public duties while continuing to undergo cancer treatment, Buckingham Palace confirmed on Thursday.
The news came amid reports that Prince William’s wife, Kate, will miss a public rehearsal for the event as she, too, receives treatment for cancer. It remains unclear whether the Princess of Wales will attend the main ceremony, known as Trooping the Color, on June 15, Britain's Press Association reported.
Kate has revealed few details about her illness or treatment since announcing her cancer diagnosis on March 22.
Charles had been returning to public duties before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week called a snap election. That forced the king to postpone engagements that might divert attention from the campaign, raising questions about whether he would attend the birthday celebration.
Trooping the Color is a 460-year old tradition in which troops in full dress uniform parade past the king with their ceremonial flag, also known as their “color.”

Charles is likely to travel to the event by carriage with Queen Camilla and is expected to watch the Trooping ceremony seated on a dais, rather than on horseback as he did last year.