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Japan Joins Moon Race by Launching SLIM and XRISM

Published: 9.8.2023

Japan embarked on its lunar journey on September 6, 2023, as it initiated the lunar exploration mission with the H-IIA Launch Vehicle. This rocket carried the lunar lander Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) and the X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite.

SLIM stands out as an agile lander engineered for precision, aiming to alight within a mere 100 meters of its designated lunar target area. Its mission is to test spacecraft landing accuracy, and testing the feasibility of pinpoint landings on celestial bodies.

Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), articulated during a press conference that the mission's ultimate goal is to showcase the potential for spacecraft to land exactly “where we want”, rather than being constrained to landing sites “where we can”.

The lander's rendezvous point is set on the near side of the moon near Mare Nectaris—a lunar feature resembling a dark spot when viewed from Earth. After its successful touchdown, the lander will analyze the composition of olivine rocks near the sites in search of clues about the origin of the moon.

On the same trajectory, XRISM is a joint project between JAXA, NASA, and the European Space Agency. This satellite wields formidable X-ray telescopic capabilities, aimed at studying the hot plasma that makes up most of the cosmos. Additionally, XRISM is equipped to gather data regarding the composition of the galaxies.

The inauguration of the H-IIA Launch Vehicle launch marks a milestone in Japan's space odyssey. It underscores Japan's unwavering dedication to lunar exploration and underscores its escalating prowess in the domain of space technology.

The success of these missions will provide valuable insights into the moon and the universe and will pave the way for future human exploration. The success of these missions could also lead to increased demand for space exploration services, such as launch services, satellite manufacturing, and ground support.

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