JAPAN has sent its “lunar sniper” into space, joining major space powers in the most ambitious year for moon landings since Apollo 11.
It comes two weeks after India created history by becoming the first country to land its Chandrayaan-3 lander ‘Vikram’ near the moon’s south pole.
The historic moment marked a major advance in the search for water-based ice, which will be crucial to future human habitation of the moon.
Water found could also be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen and used to fuel spacecraft for trips to Mars and elsewhere.
Russia was desperate to be the first to survey the area, but failed miserably when its 800kg Luna 25 probe plunged from orbit into the lunar surface and broke into pieces.
It was Putin’s first lunar mission in 50 years; He had hoped that the robotic spacecraft would stay on the celestial body for a year and collect rock and dust samples.
Luna-25 reportedly cost “tens of billions of rubles” – or tens of millions of pounds – and required the evacuation of a remote village amid fears debris could fall on it.
The space agency said of the outage: “Communication with the Luna-25 spacecraft was lost. Actions taken on August 19 and 20 to locate and contact the device yielded no results.”
“According to the results of a preliminary analysis, due to the deviation of the actual parameters of the momentum from the calculated ones, the device moved to an orbit outside the design and ceased to exist due to a collision with the lunar surface. “
Japan now hopes to become the fifth country in the world to land on the moon after launching an exploration spacecraft aboard a homemade H-IIA rocket this week.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the rocket left southern Japan as planned and successfully launched the low-cost “lunar sniper,” or Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM).
If all goes according to plan, the $100 million (£80.18 million) mission will begin landing in Februaryyear and land within 100 meters of it site.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said: “The major goal of SLIM is to demonstrate high-precision landing… to be able to ‘land where we want’ rather than ‘land where we can’ on the lunar surface.”
Japan hopes to use SLIM to test advanced optical and image processing technologies and find clues to the origin of the moon.
It follows two previous moon landing attempts by Japan that failed last year; One disappeared and the other crashed while attempting to land on the lunar surface.
The US space agency NASA is scheduled to launch its next moon mission, Artemis II, with astronauts on board in 2024.
In a future mission in 2025 or 2026, it wants to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon, explore its surface, establish “the first long-term presence” and use all the findings for its final endeavor: sending the first astronauts to Mars.
NASA will use the Space-X spacecraft for the mission.
China is also joining the revitalized spacewith plans to land astronauts on the moon by the end of the decade.
If successful, it would be only the second country after the USA to achieve this.
State media recently announced that the mission will use the lunar orbit rendezvous process, similar to that used by the United States in its Apollo program, but will carry the lander and command spacecraft on two separate rockets instead of one.
Zhang Hailian, deputy chief engineer of the China Manned Space Agency, said the crew will conduct scientific investigations and collect samples before returning to Earth. reports the South China Morning Post.
An astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the US, Dr. McDowell, told that This apparent increase in interest in going to the moon is linked to the desire of space powers to establish habitable bases.
He explained: “The moon is used as a stepping stone to places like Mars.”
“It’s a great place to test space technologies.”