Japan launches 'moon sniper' lunar lander SLIM into space.

Japan launched a lunar exploration spacecraft on Thursday aboard a homegrown H-IIA rocket, hoping to become the world's fifth country to land on the moon early next year.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said the rocket took off from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan as planned and successfully released the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM). Unfavourable weather led to three postponements in a week last month.

Dubbed the "moon sniper", Japan aims to land SLIM within 100 metres of its target site on the lunar surface. The $100-million mission is expected to start the landing by February after a long, fuel-efficient approach trajectory.

"The big objective of SLIM is to prove the high-accuracy landing ... to achieve 'landing where we want' on the lunar surface, rather than 'landing where we can'," JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa told a news conference.

Source: www.reuters.com


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