Due to unfavorable weather conditions, the launch of a Japanese space telescope and a moon lander with the same rocket, scheduled for Monday, has been postponed indefinitely. This was announced by the Japanese space agency JAXA on Monday morning (local time). A few days after a failed and a historically successful moon landing attempt, the next attempt was delayed a bit. The lunar lander called SLIM is to use a ride and fly into space on board the rocket that will take the X-ray telescope XRISM into space. According to CNN, the launch pad used is reserved until September 15th.
Two missions, one missile
Artist’s impression of XRISM
XRISM (X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission) is an X-ray telescope and was developed by JAXA together with the US space agency NASA and the European ESA. Among other things, it is intended to investigate how galaxy clusters formed and developed and how chemical elements were created or distributed in the universe. It is also intended to determine how the structure of space-time behaves under extreme gravity and how extremely massive black holes influence star formation in galaxies. The cooperating space agencies are guaranteed research time for their participation in the development and the hardware, the ESA, for example, 8 percent.
Artist’s impression of SLIM on the moon
SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) is a 700 kg, 2.4 m × 1.7 m × 2.7 m lander whose only task is to land safely and with great precision on the moon. The device should navigate on the basis of camera images and hit the targeted landing site with an accuracy of 100 m. So far, such unmanned moon missions have only landed with a precision of several to dozens of kilometers, which is why they do not necessarily land near potentially interesting research targets. Should SLIM’s precision landing succeed, not only could it make much more accurate missions possible, it would also make Japan only the fifth nation to have successfully landed on the moon.
The start, which was canceled at short notice without announcing a new date, had already been postponed due to the weather conditions. It is still unclear when a new attempt will be made. However, if the launch, carried out with an H-IIA rocket, finally succeeds, the two missions will embark on very different paths. In the future, XRISM will orbit the earth at an altitude of around 550 km and, after careful commissioning, will start collecting data around January. SLIM, in turn, should fly to the moon for three to four months and orbit it for about a month. Only about four to six months after the start does the JAXA finally want to tackle the “precise” moon landing.
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