The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA is planning an unmanned Japanese moon mission. They are working on becoming the fourth country to be able to make a soft landing on the moon with a moon probe, dubbed SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon). The lander would travel into space on the Japanese Epsilon rocket in either 2018 or 2019 if their plans go as scheduled.
Japanese Moon Mission Keeps Up With China, Other Countries
JAXA says that the planned Japanese moon mission travel is in part to get some interest back in space exploration and to keep up with other nations such as China. The space agency made a proposal for the mission to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on Monday outlining the possible Japanese moon mission plans.
Three other countries have already landed a probe or lunar landers on the moon, including the US, Russia and China with successful unmanned moon missions, and the US has also had a successful manned moon mission with the Apollo series of manned landings. JAXA reported that the cost of developing their SLIM probe is estimated to be about 15 billion yen or $126 million. The US would assist by building the moon rocket and landing craft. The planned travel to the moon is said to be one step in the country’s plan to execute a Mars mission in the future.
Other Japanese Space Accomplishments Show its Prowess
Japan has previously sent up the Kaguya lunar orbiter to travel to the moon in 2007 and take pictures of craters and other parts of the lunar landscape. In fact, the Kaguya lunar orbiter’s data are expected to be used to determine a landing spot for the SLIM in 2018.
Japan has also used advanced landing technology when they sent up the Hayabusa unmanned probe to travel and land on the Itokawa asteroid in 2003, and returned with samples in 2010. Japan has long been one of the world’s leading space-faring nations and was the first Asian country, in 1970, to put a satellite into orbit around the Earth. JAXA had also planned a Mars mission in 1998, but it was cancelled in 2003 after several technical problems. Japan has not yet tried to travel into space with a manned mission, but there have been Japanese astronauts who served on the International Space Station.
Like other countries, Japan has had monetary problems getting funding for its space agency, but has high hopes for its Japanese moon mission to get the money needed to travel into space and land an unmanned lunar probe on the moon, and perhaps in the future to go further into space to Mars.
A video in Moorland, reminds of Earth’s otherworldly landscapes and textures, reminiscent of a moon land: