| 4 December 2023, Monday |

Japan recruits first new astronauts in 13 years

It’s a small step for Japan, but a huge opportunity for would-be space cadets: for the first time in over a decade, the country is recruiting new astronauts, and applicants are no longer required to have a science degree.

Women are strongly encouraged to apply for the position, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), because all seven of the country’s current astronauts are men.

Successful applicants, who must be Japanese, will be trained and dispatched on missions to the Moon, the Lunar Gateway, or the International Space Station.

“We want to establish a (recruiting) system that is current,” JAXA’s Kazuyoshi Kawasaki said at a press conference.

“Previously, we restricted candidates to those with a natural science degree, but many of us agreed to make it optional.”

Written exams, on the other hand, will include university-level questions on science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as a test of the applicants’ English ability.

JAXA announced that it will accept applications between December 20 and March 4, marking the first time in 13 years that it will offer positions to rookie astronauts.

They are looking for “a few” astronauts with at least three years of work experience this time around.

There are no age or gender quotas, and the height requirement has been reduced to 149.5 centimeters (4.9 feet).

Akihiko Hoshide, 52, is a member of Japan’s current crew and returned to Earth from the International Space Station earlier this month in a SpaceX craft.

  • AFP