Joining the global race for the Moon, Japan on Thursday launched a rocket carrying a Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) as well as an X-ray telescope that will explore the origins of the universe.
Soon after the successful liftoff of the HII-A rocket of Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) carrying two spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southwestern Japan, Isro posted on X, “Congratulations JAXA on the successful launch of the SLIM lander to the moon. Best wishes for another successful lunar endeavour by the global space community.”
India, which recently became the first country in the world to land its Chandrayaan-3 Vikram lander successfully on the Moon’s south pole on August 23, will next launch a Moon mission, Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX), in partnership with JAXA aimed at exploring lunar polar region suitability for establishing a lunar base.
“We have a liftoff,” the narrator at JAXA said as the rocket flew up in a burst of smoke then flew over the Pacific. Thirteen minutes after the launch, the rocket put into orbit around the Earth a satellite called the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission or XRISM, which will measure the speed and makeup of what lies between galaxies.
Moon lander SLIM successfully separated from the rocket about 45 minutes after the launch and proceeded on its proper track to the Moon. SLIM has been nicknamed ‘Moon Sniper’ because it is designed to land within 100 metres of a specific target on the lunar surface. Just like Chandrayaan-3 journey, SLIM,which cost around $100-million, will take a long and roundabout journey of at least four months to the Moon that requires less propellant and is expected to reach the Moon by February.
JAXA is leading the telescope mission in collaboration with US space agency Nasa and European Space Agency, which contributed to the telescope’s construction.
The information (from the telescope) helps in studying how celestial objects were formed and hopefully can lead to solving the mystery of how the universe was created, says JAXA. In cooperation with Nasa, JAXA will look at the strength of light at different wavelengths, the temperature of things in space and their shapes and brightness.
Japan’s lunar mission comes at a time when the world is again turning to the challenge of going to the Moon. Till now, only four nations have successfully landed on the Moon, the US, Russia, China and India. In April, Japanese startup ispace failed in an ambitious attempt to become the first private company to land on the Moon. Thereafter, Russian lander Luna-25 failed in its mission to land on the Moon in August.
Joining the global competition to send humans to the Moon, Japan has also started recruiting astronaut candidates for the first time in 13 years, making clear its ambitions to send a Japanese person to the Moon.

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