In this photo provided by NASA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide reacts to a comment after being helped out of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship after he and NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida on Nov 8, 2021. (AUBREY GEMIGNANI / NASA VIA AP)
Japan’s space agency, opening its doors for the first time in 13 years to new recruits, is changing up its hiring process in a bid to attract a more diverse pool of candidates.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, will no longer require college degrees for wannabe space travelers and while a minimum of three years’ work experience is necessary to apply for entry into the program, it no longer has to be in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, according to a statement Friday.
It’s hoped any newly recruited astronaut trainees will one day work on the Lunar Gateway project, a development that includes four of the International Space Station partner agencies – NASA, the European Space Agency, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency
JAXA has also relaxed its height requirements from at least 158cms so a more “diverse” pool of candidates can apply, it said.
It’s hoped any newly recruited astronaut trainees will one day work on the Lunar Gateway project, a development that includes four of the International Space Station partner agencies – NASA, the European Space Agency, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency.
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The Lunar Gateway is a yet-to-be-built small space station to further the study of things like planetary science and astrophysics.
It in turn is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to land the first female and first person of color on the moon. According to JAXA, Japan doesn’t have any female astronauts while only 16 of NASA’s 44 astronauts are women. Of the European Space Agency’s seven astronauts, one is a woman, JAXA said.
Japan has been slow to promote women to positions of power, with the nation ranking 120th out of 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report.
The Global Gender Gap Index was first introduced by the WEF in 2006 to benchmark progress toward gender parity and compare countries’ gender gaps across economic opportunities, education, health and political leadership.
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JAXA also said last week it plans to launch a public relations campaign to encourage more women to consider a career involving space.