Japan’s “moon sniper” mission infographic
Graphic shows Japan’s “moon sniper” mission


Japan joins lunar race with rocket launch

By Jordi Bou

September 7, 2023 - Japan has launched a lunar mission, hoping to become the world’s fifth country to land on the moon after the U.S., Russia, China and India.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said the rocket took off from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan as planned and successfully released the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM).

Japan aims to land SLIM within 100 metres of its target location – much closer than conventional lunar landers, which usually have an accuracy of several kilometres.

The landing mission will study the origins of the moon and test technology that is critical to future moon landing programs, experts said.

The launch comes two weeks after India became the fourth nation to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon with its Chandrayaan-3 mission to the unexplored lunar south pole. Around the same time, Russia's Luna-25 lander crashed while approaching the moon.

The rocket was also carrying the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite, a joint project between the Japanese, American and European space agencies.

PUBLISHED: 07/09/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: JAXA