Japan scrubs launch of lunar landing mission for third time due to weather conditions

Jaxa's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon
Jaxa's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon Copyright AFP PHOTO / JAPAN AEROSPACE EXPLORATION AGENCY (JAXA)
By Euronews with AFP
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Japan wants to be the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the Moon, but it will have to wait a little longer.


Japan has ambitions to be the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the Moon - but its proposed mission has been postponed for a third time.

The Japanese space agency (Jaxa) was aiming to send a H2-A rocket - carrying a lunar lander - to the Moon on Monday, but poor weather conditions meant the launch was scrubbed.

A new date has not yet been set for the so-called ‘Moon Sniper’ mission, which involves a Japanese rocket carrying a lunar lander called the Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM).

The mission was called off at the last minute ahead of launch from Jaxa’s launch base at Tanegashima, in the south-west of the country.

The countdown continued until at least 30 minutes before launch, but Jaxa and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), who are in charge of the launch, declared that the mission had been cancelled due to strong winds at altitude.

Regarding the next date for the mission, it will take "at least three days" to check weather conditions, explained Tatsuru Tokunaga, MHI's launch manager, at a press conference.

Japan wants to test its high-precision lunar landing technology, aiming to have it land no more than 100 metres from its target as opposed to the usual several kilometres.

XRISM, a satellite developed jointly by Jaxa, Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) for an X-ray imaging and spectroscopy mission, is also scheduled to be on board.

Last week, India successfully landed its first spacecraft on the Moon. Before it, only the United States, the Soviet Union and China had successfully landed on the Moon.

Russia has just failed in a new attempt, with its Luna-25 probe crashing into the surface of the Moon on August 19.

Japan had already attempted last November to land a mini-probe on the Moon, aboard the US’s Artemis 1 mission. But communication with Omotenashi (meaning ‘hospitality’ in Japanese) was lost shortly after the probe was ejected into space, due to battery failure.

And in April of this year, a young Japanese private company, ispace, failed to land its Hakuto-R module, which probably crashed on the surface of the Moon too.

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