The Next Astronaut Landing on the Moon Is Not American

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 20, 2024

While any American under the age of 60 won’t remember the excitement of watching the first Moon landing, the intense emotions in Buzz Aldrin’s steps and the planting of the nation’s flag on that far-away rock have lived on in all Americans. 

However, US President Joe Biden recently announced that there will be another flag alongside red, white, and blue on the Moon very soon. Japan is about to send its first astronaut to walk on the Moon. 

The Moon Is on Everyone’s Mind

The announcement from the president has arrived just days after the incredible and long-awaited eclipse on April 8, 2024. 

Photograph of the eclipse on April 8, 2024

Source: @ABS-CBN News/Facebook

While the Moon orbited and slowly moved directly in front of the sun, people all over the world headed outside with their specialty glasses to catch a glimpse at the almost-miracle-like scene. So, it’s safe to say that the Moon is truly on everyone’s mind this week. 


The American Flag Has Been Sitting Up There for 55 Years

As millions watched the Moon cause the magical shadow, they undoubtedly thought of the fact that nearly 55 years ago, humans just like us were up there, taking the first ever steps on its surface. 

Photograph of a full Moon against a dark sky

Source: Freepik

The idea that human beings actually had the capacity to visit our Moon still feels almost impossible, which is one of the reasons why the memory of the reality remains so permanently planted in our brains.

America Has Always Been Proud of Its Unique Relationship With the Moon

While people all over the planet could have been imagining what it would be like to walk on the Moon last week, for Americans, this idea holds an even dearer place in their hearts. 

The Apollo 11 lunar landing mission crew, pictured from left to right, Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot

Source: Wikipedia

To date, only 12 people have stepped foot on the Moon and every one of them was American. However, as President Biden recently explained, that statement won’t be true for much longer. 

President Biden and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Famous Meeting

April 10, 2024, Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, flew to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Joe Biden. 

Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida alongside President Joe Biden at the white House on April 10, 2024

Source: @CBSNews/YouTube

The state visit included a dinner and several private conversations between the two world leaders. After which, both Kishida and Biden  publicly announced that the visit had solidified the two-country alliance, making it stronger than ever before.

Biden Expressed America’s Excitement to Share the Moon With Its Friend

While proclaiming the renewed friendship between the two countries, Biden said, “Those ties [between the countries] stretch up to the Moon, where two Japanese astronauts will join future American missions, and one will become the first non-American ever to land on the Moon.”

President Joe Biden speaks during an interview/The dark and light side of the Moon

Source: @60Minutes/YouTubeFreepik

Biden’s statement was not a surprise to anyone within the aerospace industry or even among those who have been watching the latest developments. Japan is just one of many countries focused on getting to the Moon. 


The Entire World Seems to Be Focused on the Moon

Over the past few years, the aerospace departments of some of the world’s most prominent countries have been working diligently on missions to the Moon. 

Digital illustration of a lunar probe landed on the moon’s surface

Source: @VideoFromSpace/YouTube

India successfully landed the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the Moon in August of 2023; China’s robots, named Chang’e 3, 4, and 5, have all triumphantly landed on the Moon’s surface; Russia, who failed to land on the Moon almost 50 years ago, gave it another try in 2023, but fell short yet again. 


Prime Minister Kishida’s Plans for the Moon

JAXA, Japan’s aerospace agency, has already successfully landed a lunar probe on the Moon. While the landing didn’t go quite to plan, JAXA has since announced that the probe is functioning again and will continue to send back vital information regarding the rocky surface. 

Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida pauses during a speech at an event

Source: @PBSNewsHour/YouTube

This data collection mission is just the beginning. Prime Minister Kishida plans to have Japanese astronauts taking their first steps on the Moon very soon.


NASA Has Turned Its Eyes Back to the Moon, Too

Even though some might say the US has already “won” the Moon, NASA has much bigger plans for their next missions than anything they’ve done before. 

Logo for NASA in front of one of the organization’s buildings on a cloudy day

Source: Pixaby

The Artemis program is well underway, and within its many missions, NASA has promised that it will “will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon,” and even “establish the first long-term presence on the Moon.”


The NASA/Japan Advance Space Cooperation

According to NASA, they have always planned to “collaborate with commercial and international partners” to create a long-term lunar base for astronauts to live and work on the Moon. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama, hold signed copies of an historic agreement between the United States and Japan to advance sustainable human exploration of the Moon

Source: @BillIngalls/NASA

But now, it’s public knowledge that Japan and its agency, JAXA, will be the prominent partner in this undertaking. On April 10, 2024, NASA released a statement, announcing that NASA and JAXA have officially “signed an agreement to advance sustainable human exploration of the Moon.”


A Lunar Base Isn’t Far Away

NASA’s announcement continued, “Japan will design, develop, and operate a pressurized rover for crewed and uncrewed exploration on the Moon. NASA will provide the launch and delivery of the rover to the Moon as well as two opportunities for Japanese astronauts to travel to the lunar surface”

Digital illustration of the proposed lunar base to be built on the Moon

Source: @TheSimplySpace/YouTube

Although it will still take years to complete this kind of mission, the wheels are already in motion. Which means that millions of people will truly see astronauts living on the Moon in their lifetime. 


Soon There Could Be Several Flags on the Moon

As NASA explained, this partnership still allows the USA to be at the forefront of lunar exploration. But now, more than ever, it’s for the “benefit of all.”

Aldrin salutes the deployed United States flag on the lunar surface, 1969

Source: Wikipedia

There’s no question that Japan will be the next country to proudly place their flag on the surface of the Moon, but with the way things are going, several other countries may be close behind.