The Asian space race is intensifying as Japan releases plans to put a man on the moon by 2030.

Japan plans to join a mission to build a space station in the moon’s orbit in 2025, as part of a wider ambition by NASA to send a mission to Mars.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi gives a thumbs-up minutes after the landing near the town of Zhezkazgan June 2, 2010. Noguchi, Commander Oleg Kotov of Russia (not pictured) and U.S. astronaut Timothy J. Creamer (not pictured),who make up Russian Expedition 23 and are commanded by Kotov, left Earth in December of last year for the $100 billion, 16-nation International Space Station (ISS).  REUTERS/Pool/Mikhail Metzel  (KAZAKHSTAN - Tags: SCI TECH) - RTR2ENIW
Image: REUTERS/Pool/Mikhail Metzel

By investing in the project, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA , hopes that it will win a space on the station, from which it would eventually send an astronaut to the moon. It would be the first time that a Japanese astronaut had gone beyond the international space station.

The supermoon is seen behind a ferris wheel in Tokyo August 11, 2014. The astronomical event occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit, making it appear much larger and brighter than usual.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY) - RTR41W7U
Image: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Both India and China have plans to put a man on the moon, while President Trump has just signed a bill approving $19.5 billion of funding for NASA with the ultimate aim of sending a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

In what would be another first, China plans to land a probe on the dark side of the moon next year, although several recent launch failures may delay this.

Meanwhile, India broke records earlier this year by launching 104 satellites from a single rocket. The country also successfully sent a probe to orbit Mars in 2014.

Since the Soviet Union became the first country to send a man, Yuri Gagarin, into space in 1961, only the US, China and the Soviet Union have successfully launched manned space missions although nationals from other countries have travelled on board.