Japan has announced plans to send an astronaut to the Moon by 2030, as part of a new strategy for space travel in the country.
If successful, the mission would be the first time the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has sent a human being further than the International Space Station (ISS).
While the station orbits approximately 200 miles (320 km) from Earth, the Moon is around 238,855 miles (384,000 km) away from our planet.
In anticipation of the goal, Japan hopes to join a 2025 NASA-led mission to build a new space station in the Moon’s orbit.
A contribution of cutting-edge technology will give Japan an edge over other countries, hopefully guaranteeing a sought-after spot at the space station, the agency says.
In October 2016 a crew of astronauts from Japan, the USA and Kazakhstan returned to Earth after 115 days on the ISS.
Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi returns from a 115-day joint mission with NASA and Kazakhstan in October
The announcement comes as China and India are also pushing ahead with ambitious space programmes.
Beijing hopes to send an unmanned rover and probe to Mars before 2020.
In November, China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft and two astronauts returned to Earth, completing the country’s longest ever orbital mission.
The US also has ambitious plans for further space travel with NASA, backed by a bill passed in March by Congress, planning to send astronauts to Mars by 2033.
A manned mission would be the furthest human beings have ventured into space: at its closest, Mars is 46.8 million miles (75.3 million km) from Earth, and reaching the planet would take eight months.
The anticipated space station in the Moon’s orbit will play a key role in enabling travel to the planet, acting as a base from which to launch missions.
More details of Japan’s space strategy will be released later this year.