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      Japan ‘Moon Sniper’ SLIM Lunar Spacecraft Launched Into Space

      Japan launch its lunar exploration spacecraft aboard a homegrown H-IIA rocket, hoping to become the world’s fifth country to land on the Moon early 2024. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said the rocket took off from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan as plan and successfully release the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM).

      Unfavorable weather led to three postponements in a week last month.

      Japan aims to land SLIM within 100 meters of its target site on the lunar surface.

      The $100-million (approx. Rs. 831 crores) mission is expect to start the landing by February after a long, fuel-efficient approach trajectory.

      JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa told a news conference :

      “The big objective of SLIM is to prove the high-accuracy landing … to achieve ‘landing where we want’ on the lunar surface, rather than ‘landing where we can’,”.

      The launch comes two weeks after India became the fourth nation to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon with its Chandrayaan-3 mission to the unexplore lunar south pole.

      Also Russia’s Luna-25 lander crash while approaching the Moon.

      Two earlier lunar landing attempts by Japan fail in 2022.

      JAXA lost contact with the OMOTENASHI lander and scrub an attempt landing in November.

      The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, made by Japanese startup space, crash in April as it attempt to descend to the lunar surface.

      SLIM is set to touch down on the near side of the Moon close to Mare Nectaris, a lunar sea that, viewed from Earth, appears as a dark spot.

      Its primary goal is to test advanced optical and image processing technology.

      After landing, the craft aims to analyse the composition of olivine rocks near the sites in search of clues about the origin of the Moon.

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      No lunar rover is load on SLIM.

      H-IIA rocket also carried the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite, a joint project of JAXA, NASA, and the European Space Agency.

      The satellite aims to observe plasma winds flowing through the universe that scientists see as key to helping understand the evolution of stars and galaxies.

      Mitsubishi Heavy Industries manufacture the rocket and operate the launch, which mark the 47th H-IIA rocket Japan has launch since 2001, bringing the vehicle’s success rate close to 98%.

      JAXA had suspend the launch of H-IIA carrying SLIM for many months while it investigate the failure of its new medium-lift H3 rocket during its debut in March.

      Japan’s space missions have face other recent setbacks, with the launch failure of the Epsilon small rocket in October 2022, follow by an engine explosion during a test in July.

      Japan aims to send an astronaut to the Moon’s surface in the latter half of the 2020s as part of NASA’s Artemis program. 

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