Japan’s Moon-Lander Mission, SLIM, Successfully Launched, Eyes Precision Landing
Japan Aims to Join Elite Lunar Club with Unique Spacecraft
In a long-awaited liftoff, Japan’s ambitious Moon-lander mission, known as SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon), finally embarked on its journey to the Moon. If this mission succeeds, it will elevate Japan’s status, making it the fifth country globally to achieve a lunar landing.
SLIM is charting an unconventional course to the Moon and is slated to touch down within the next four to six months. Remarkably, it is set to become the smallest and lightest spacecraft to ever land on the lunar surface.
“Congratulations, JAXA, on the successful launch of the SLIM lander to the Moon. Best wishes for another successful lunar endeavor by the global space community,” ISRO conveyed.
The H-IIA rocket carried SLIM into space alongside an X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), designed for astronomical observations. XRISM was separated from the rocket a mere 14 minutes after launch, precisely deployed into its designated orbit. XRISM’s mission revolves around conducting high-resolution X-ray spectroscopic observations of the hot gas plasma winds that course through galaxies, with a primary focus on discerning mass-energy flows, celestial object composition, and evolution.
Approximately 47 minutes following launch, the SLIM spacecraft detached from the rocket and was positioned in an Earth-orbit. Over the next few days, SLIM will execute orbit-raising maneuvers, mirroring the initial phase of Chandrayaan-3.
This historic mission marks JAXA’s maiden attempt at lunar landing. A previous endeavor by a private Japanese company earlier this year, in May, had met with failure.
SLIM is a relatively diminutive spacecraft, weighing in at approximately 200 kg, contrasting with Chandrayaan-3’s lander module, which weighed about 1,750 kg. SLIM’s primary objective is to demonstrate precision landing accuracy within 100 meters of the chosen lunar site. The mission’s core aspiration is to prove that humans can land on the Moon at their preferred location, not merely where it is convenient.
As the world watches with bated breath, Japan’s SLIM mission holds the promise of adding another milestone to humanity’s exploration of the lunar frontier.