The Japanese H-IIA launch vehicle will be launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in the southwestern part of the island, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), which manages the operation, announced on Monday.
The launch has already been postponed several times due to bad weather, most recently on August 28, shortly before the planned launch, it was suspended due to strong winds in the upper atmosphere. The rocket will carry the Japanese space agency JAXA’s lunar rover (SLIM), which would be Japan’s first lander on Earth’s companion planet. The SLIM lunar lander was developed to test lunar landing technology.
Japan, which has been successful in launching satellites, has failed in many of its attempts this year. In March, JAXA’s new flagship H3 rocket was ordered to self-destruct minutes after its second-stage engine failed to engage, and the Japanese space agency’s Epsilon small rocket engine exploded during testing in July.
After launch, SLIM is expected to enter lunar orbit within three to four months and attempt to land on the lunar surface four to six months later. If successful, Japan will be the fifth country to land on the moon after the former Soviet Union, the United States, China and India. In the current launch window, JAXA can still attempt to launch the space rocket until September 15.
India’s Chandrayan-3 spacecraft made a successful landing on August 23, while Russia’s Luna-25 space probe was destroyed after hitting the surface of the Moon on August 19.
The data collected by the Japanese lunar rover as part of the US-led Artemis 3 space rocket program is intended to in the first step, put people on the moon and then on Mars in the next step.
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