Japan Successfully Launches Rocket Carrying Moon Lander SLIM
Japan successfully launched the H-IIA rocket carrying the moon lander of the national space agency on Thursday morning. This launch had faced three postponements last month due to unfavorable weather conditions.
- The launch took place from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was responsible for manufacturing the rocket and overseeing the launch.
- The rocket is carrying JAXA’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft, known as the “moon sniper” due to its precise landing technology.
- SLIM’s lunar landing is scheduled for early next year.
- A research satellite developed by JAXA, in collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency, is also on board.
LAUNCH! Japan's HII-A rocket launches the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) X-ray telescope and Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) lander.— Chris Bergin – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) September 6, 2023
JAXA livestream:https://t.co/hkkYmzmvJA pic.twitter.com/k1mJogGAfc
Importance of SLIM’s Precision Landing:
- SLIM is engineered for a remarkably precise landing within 100 meters of its designated target on the lunar surface. This precision far exceeds the typical landing range of several kilometers on the Moon.
- JAXA emphasized the significance of SLIM, stating that it represents a qualitative shift in our ability to land precisely where we want, not just where it’s easy to land.
- Globally, there have been no previous instances of pinpoint landing on celestial bodies with significant gravity, such as the Moon.
- The success of SLIM could open doors for future landings on celestial bodies with even scarcer resources than the Moon.
Recent Lunar Achievements:
- India recently achieved the distinction of becoming the fourth nation to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon with its Chandrayaan-3 mission, targeting the lunar south pole.
- Japan has faced challenges in previous attempts to land on the Moon, including communication issues with a lander carried by a NASA rocket, which led to the cancellation of a landing attempt in November. Additionally, a lander developed by a Japanese startup, ispace, crashed during its descent to the lunar surface in April.
This successful launch marks a significant step in Japan’s lunar exploration efforts and underscores the importance of precise landing technology for future space missions.