Moon Sniper Launch: Japan’s space agency, JAXA, made significant progress in its lunar exploration endeavors as it successfully launched a rocket carrying a lunar lander named “moon sniper” on Thursday. This event marks Japan’s fourth attempt at launching the lander this year, after being hindered previously due to unfavorable weather conditions.
The anticipation surrounding this mission is immense, as Japan aims to solidify its position among the elite group of countries that have achieved successful lunar landings. Only four countries – the US, Russia, China, and India – have accomplished this feat so far. India’s recent successful lunar mission, where it managed to place a spacecraft near the Moon’s south pole, has generated even more interest in space exploration globally.
If the “moon sniper” mission proceeds without hitches, it is predicted to reach a location in close proximity to the Shioli crater on the Moon’s near side, with a precision of about 100 meters. The spacecraft is expected to orbit the Moon for four months and, following this phase, will aim for a landing in February.
Beyond its exploratory objectives, this $100 million mission is Japan’s attempt to showcase its capabilities in achieving lunar landings that are both economical and efficient.
Accompanying the lunar lander was the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite, representing a collaborative effort between the space agencies of Japan, the US, and Europe. Post-launch, the XRISM satellite, equipped with a bus-sized telescope, separated from the lunar lander to enter an Earth-centric orbit. Its primary task is to probe space phenomena, including the mysteries of black holes.
However, Japan’s path to this successful launch has not been without obstacles. The Japanese space agency lost communication with its OMOTENASHI spacecraft last November, forcing them to cancel their Moon landing mission. A similar fate befell iSpace, a private Japanese start-up, in April when its Hakuto-R lander lost contact with mission control. Additionally, Japan faced setbacks with two test rockets failing to launch this year due to engine malfunctions, with the most recent incident occurring in July.
Despite these challenges, Japan’s determination in space exploration remains undeterred. The successful launch of the “moon sniper” is a testament to the nation’s perseverance and commitment to expanding its footprint in space.