Clever bison sees red on the road to the moon. On the one hand, the historic powers of the conquest of space are once again turning to it: the United States wants to send astronauts in 2025, and Russia tried unsuccessfully to land a spacecraft there in early August, its first lunar mission. since 1976. On the other hand, the emerging powers of the conquest of the stars see in the approach of the satellite a stage towards Mars.
Among them, China, the most experienced member of this category, which notably plans to send men to set foot on the lunar soil before 2030. But also India, which on Thursday August 24 became the first country to land a spacecraft on the South Pole of our only natural satellite, thus joining the closed club of countries that have placed an object on the Moon (United States, Russia and China). Enough to put pressure on Japan, which will launch the Moon Sniper module on Monday August 28. The launch, originally scheduled for Saturday, was postponed due to bad weather affecting the launch area in Tanegashima, in the south of the archipelago.
A technology to aim right
Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (Slim) is a small size probe and weighs between 700 and 730 kg. It should make it possible to test a new very precise moon landing technology, the objective of which is to obtain a moon landing within a radius of 100 meters maximum around its target. All within four to six months. “It is important to succeed in landing with high precision to allow efficient exploration in the future”, explains Jaxa, the Japanese space agency, on its site. For the director of the Slim program, Shinichiro Sakai, the moon landings “remain a very difficult technology” to master.
This mission comes after several failures for the last Japanese space missions. In November, the Jaxa lost contact with a mini-probe after it was ejected from the American mission Artemis 1 for a moon landing. No more success for the Japanese start-up Ispace, whose Hakuto-R module probably crashed on the Moon in April. The Japanese space agency is also under pressure due to the failure of its last two rocket projects.
No doubt Monday’s launch will be watched closely by the Indian space agency, which is engaged in the Lupex mission with Japan. In this program of studies of lunar water deposits, planned beyond 2025, India will provide the moon landing system and Japan the rocket and the lunar rover.