Japan launches SLIM Moon lander

Japan launched a lunar lander on 7th Sep 2023, aiming to become the fifth nation to achieve a soft landing on the moon's surface following India's success in a similar mission last month.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) was sent to space on an H-IIA rocket. The launch was originally scheduled for the 26th of August but was postponed three times due to bad weather.

SLIM is taking a long route to the Moon and is scheduled to make a landing in four to five months. According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, SLIM will spend the first month in Earth's orbit before heading to the moon through a series of orbital manoeuvres over a period of three to four months.  SLIM will then prepare for landing, orbiting the moon before making a descent sometime between January and February next year.

SLIM is a light and small spacecraft developed by Mitsubishi Electric. One of the goals of the mission is to demonstrate precision landing technology. The spacecraft is expected to land within 100 meters of a target site. The lander uses vision-based navigation to identify a landing spot and avoid obstacles on the surface.

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