AsianScientist (Jul. 16, 2012) – On the eve of the 43rd anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 launch which is on July 16, Japan announced on Sunday that it was planning a manned moon mission.
Apollo 11 was the first human lunar mission which lifted off on July 16, 1969.
The planned Japanese human lunar mission was announced at the 39th scientific assembly of Committee on Space Research (Cospar) which is currently being held in Mysore. Nearly 3,000 space scientists from 74 countries are participating in the meeting.
Tatsuaki Okada of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said that his country has planned a lunar landing mission designated as Selenological and Engineering Explorer 2 (SELENE-2).
“It is for developing and the demonstration of key technologies for future human exploration. It is a multipurpose mission which is a precursor for human exploration,” he told a session on lunar sciences.
Okada later told Asian Scientist Magazine that the manned lunar mission will be in collaboration with NASA.
“While the rocket and the lunar lander will be from NASA, the astronaut will be from Japan. There will be science exploration and moon utilization by the Japanese astronaut,” he said.
He said that SELENE-2 will consist of a lander and rover. The unofficial launch target is 2017. While emphasizing that the Japanese government recognizes the importance of lunar exploration, he however did not rule out the possibility of SELENE-2 being delayed because of budgetary constraints.
The mission plan envisages having an orbiter weighing 700 kg, a lander of 1,000 kg, and a 100 kg rover. The lander will have the capacity to carry payloads weighing up to 200 kg.
He said that 11 landing sites for SELENE-2 are under consideration and one of them was the area where Apollo 14 landed. The mission life for the lander and rover will be for two weeks.
A representative from Korea said that her country has planned a lunar orbiter and lander in 2023 and a sample return mission in 2030.
The Korean moon rocket will have three stages.
She said that Korea is participating in Japan’s SELENE-2 mission by supplying an instrument to the rover.
Apart from the moon, Korea has also set its eyes on Mars, though details of this mission were not made public.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Akihiro Ikeshita/JAXA.
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