Support for Deep Space Gateway Grows in Japan

Boeing’s proposed Deep Space Gateway (Credit: Boeing)

Although the U.S. Congress has not given approval for NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway, support for the project appears to be building in Japan as a follow-on to the nation’s partnership in the  International Space Station.

Japan hopes to join the U.S. project to construct a spaceport in lunar orbit in the latter half of the 2020s, in an effort to realize a lunar surface exploration mission by a Japanese astronaut. The government plans to submit a draft report on the project to a meeting of a governmental panel of space policy experts.

By joining an international space probe, the nation is expected to obtain scientific results, and also boost its competitiveness in the space industry and assert Japan’s leadership in the field of space utilization, the sources said….

Tokyo has decided it is a realistic goal to send astronauts for the first time to the lunar surface for exploration activities, by joining the U.S. project and contributing its expertise in such areas as the docking of the space station and supply ship. Japan will draw on its experience of close cooperation with the United States regarding ISS operations.

Any serious movement toward the Deep Space Gateway in the United States will probably have to wait until after the Senate approves an administrator to lead NASA. The Trump’s Administration’s choice, Rep. Jim Bridenstine, had a contentious confirmation hearing earlier this month before the Senate Commerce Committee.

The fate of Bridenstine’s nomination is uncertain in the full Senate with many Democrats and at least one Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), opposing his confirmation. Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 advantage in the upper chamber.

Any funding proposal for the Deep Space Gateway would be included in the fiscal year 2019 budget, which the administration would likely release in February.

  • Kirk

    Doug, have you written about the origin of the Deep Space Gateway plan?

    I was distracted by other matters back in the spring, and when I started paying attention to space again, there was the DSG, the idea fully formed, but without a hint of its origin. I understand that while the Asteroid Redirect Mission was not particularly popular, and even those working on it knew that it was unlikely to survive the change in administration, it was still the official plan.

    Were plans for the DSG being worked on prior to the 20 January departure of Administrator Bolden? If so, was that being done with official approval, or was it a side or even rogue project? Was it supported by Acting Administrator Lightfoot, or is there a separate group of advocates within NASA sufficiently powerful to put it forward without Mr. Lightfoot’s support? Did the incoming presidential administration have any specific input, or was NASA simply predicting that the winds were likely to blowing in the direction of a “return to the moon”, and the DSG might could be envisioned a more aligned with that goal than ARM? (It still looks to me like an artificial destination, unrelated to actual lunar landing, invented to give purpose to SLS and Orion, but perhaps I am missing something.)

  • Kirk, you want to look up Anatoly Zak’s coverage of the DSG. He’s been covering its origins from about 3-4 years ago as the envisioned follow on project to ISS. Go to: http://www.russianspaceweb.com/imp.html

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    DSG is huge in Japan.

  • Aerospike

    Not “big in Japan” ?

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    You’re right Aerospike, ah I mussed it up! I will change it, but everybody should know that I got it wrong :-/

  • Kirk

    Excellent! Thanks for the link.

  • windbourne

    THis is why I HOPE that Bigelow will skip ULA and will instead focus on working with Blue Origin and SpaceX.
    With Bigelow, it should be possible to put a unit it lunar orbit and then jump quickly to lunar surface.
    Bezo and SX will have the money shortly for establishing a base on the moon.
    Bezo and Bigelow WANT to be on the moon and SX will do it as long as they make money, which they will.

  • You’re welcome.
    I personally think it’s a fantastic project (threads the needle of ambitious enough to be interesting, not so ambitious it will fail) and I hope it gets built.

  • MzUnGu

    Spaceports already? Don’t u need a moon base, a bunch of spaceship, or form some Union of the Intergalactic Brotherhood of Stevedores first?