Japan is preparing to launch a mission to demonstrate its precision landing technology by landing a low-cost spacecraft on the lunar surface, with the goal of advancing its space ambitions. The mission, known as the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), is designed to land on the near side of the moon near Mare Nectaris, a lunar basin. This mission aims to showcase Japan’s capability to land a lightweight, cost-effective craft within 100 meters of a designated landing site using advanced visual navigation technology.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission is set to launch from the Tanegashima Space Centre, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries overseeing the launch and providing the H-IIA rocket for the lander. Japan’s efforts to build a domestic space industry are evident, with Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi Electric, Sharp Corp, and Meisei Electric contributing to the project.
This mission comes after India successfully landed its Chandrayaan-3 rover lander near the moon’s south pole, joining the ranks of countries that have landed spacecraft on the lunar surface. Precision landing technology is crucial not only for lunar exploration but also for future human space exploration missions. Japan’s previous attempts to land on the moon have faced challenges, making the success of the SLIM mission significant for the country’s space endeavors.
As countries and private companies engage in a new space race, Japan is looking to expand its space industry and collaborate with the United States on moon-related missions, including participation in crewed Artemis missions to the moon. The successful execution of the SLIM mission will be an important step in advancing Japan’s role in space exploration.