In November 2021, for the first time in 13 years, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced a call for astronaut candidates. There were 4,127 applicants, half of which passed the document selection process, and as of September 2022, had been narrowed down to 205. The selection examination will continue until early November, and the “few” final successful applicants will be announced around February 2023.
This recruitment is for participation in the “Artemis Program” proposed by the U.S. The Artemis program is a lunar exploration project that aims to construct a manned base in lunar orbit and on its surface to sustain human activity on the Moon. This is a major project with an eye toward a manned Mars mission in the future.
Interestingly, the conditions for hiring astronaut candidates have changed. Height restrictions have been relaxed since the evolution of space suits. Beginning with this examination, the program is now open to applicants with a liberal arts background without regard to academic qualifications. All selection tests require a presentation, and “expressive and communicative abilities” are required rather than expertise.
This topic reminds me of the Japanese comic “Space Brother”. It is also available in an animated version on Netflix. It tells the story of a young man who aspires to become an astronaut, what the astronaut selection process is like, and how refreshing and encouraging it is to pursue one’s dream.