This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
The HII-A rocket will put a satellite called the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (or XRISM) into orbit around Earth, which will measure the speed and makeup of what lies between galaxies. The rocket was launched from Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan.
The goal of this mission is to gather information that will help in studying how celestial objects were formed and hopefully can lead to solving the mystery of how the universe was created, according to JAXA. This will be done by looking at the strength of light at different wavelengths, the temperature of things in space and their shapes and brightness, in cooperation with NASA.
According to CTV News, the rocket also carries a lightweight lunar lander called SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon), which won’t make lunar orbit for three or four months after the launch and would likely attempt a landing early next year.
JAXA is reportedly developing “pinpoint landing technology” to prepare for future lunar probes and landing on other planets, since current landings tend to be off by about 10 km. The Smart Lander, however, is designed to be more precise and land within about 100 meters of the intended target.
This announcement comes when the world is again racing towards the moon, with only four nations successfully landing on its surface- the US, Russia, China, and India.
Japan’s space program, on the other hand, has been suffering failures, with the H3 rocket launch aborted due to a glitch in February, and when it was finally launched a month later it had to be destroyed after its second stage failed to ignite properly.
Nevertheless, Japan has clearly displayed its intentions to reach the moon, having started recruiting astronaut candidates for the first time in 13 years.