The operator of Japan’s space agency, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), reported that the planned launch of the country’s lunar lander is postponed due to high winds.
The H-IIA rocket was set to lift off from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Kagoshima prefecture on August 28, 2023, carrying a lunar orbiter and Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) to the moon’s surface.
If the mission is successful, it will be the first time Japan has landed on the moon.
Additionally, the rocket carries an X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) satellite, which is a collaboration among the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), United States NASA, and the European Space Agency (ESA).
The H-IIA rocket was developed jointly by JAXA and MHI and has played an important role in Japan’s space missions since its debut in 2001. It has achieved an impressive 45 successful launches out of 46 attempts.
However, the agency decided to postpone the most recent lunar launch 30 minutes before the planned lift-off to ensure the mission’s safety. JAXA is monitoring the weather and will announce a new launch date as soon as possible.
This is the third time the launch of Japan’s “Moon Sniper” lunar mission has to be put off because of the poor weather conditions.
The “Moon Sniper” got its name because JAXA wants to land it within 100 meters of a specific target on the Moon, which is much closer than the usual range of several kilometers.
This mission is extremely important for Japan’s space development efforts, especially given the incident in April 2023 when the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander from Tokyo-based startup ispace crashed on the lunar surface.