Japan's space agency to hire new astronauts

Japan's space agency says it will recruit several astronauts to take part in an international program to explore the moon.

This will be the agency's first recruitment in 13 years.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, released application guidelines for prospective astronauts on Friday.

It says it will accept applications from December 20 through March 4 next year.

Applicants must have at least three years of work experience. They should also be between 149.5 centimeters and 190.5 centimeters tall, due to specifications of spacecraft and other factors.

In the past, it was necessary for applicants to have a four-year university degree in the field of natural science, but JAXA has dropped such requirements.

The results of the selection will be announced around February 2023.

JAXA plans to launch a campaign to encourage women to apply, as there are no active female astronauts in Japan.

The agency says it wants new astronauts to work well with others, have leadership abilities and be able to convey experiences of their missions to the public.

JAXA says missions for the new astronauts may include getting on board a new space station orbiting the moon, and landing on the lunar surface under an international program.

There have been 11 Japanese astronauts so far. Of them, seven men remain in service, with an average age of 52 as of this month.