The Japanese lunar lander SLIM fired its engines on September 30, 2023 to begin its journey to the Moon. The map to the right indicates the planned route after this trans-lunar injection burn, first flying past the Moon to put it on a trajectory that will bring it back to the Moon at the proper speed and direction for its landing several months hence.
The main goal of this mission is engineering, to test the ability of an autonomous unmanned spacecraft to land precisely within a small target zone about 300 feet across. If proven, this ability will make it possible to send unmanned landers to many places that are presently impossible due to their rough topography.
The route that SLIM is taking to the Moon is also unusual, and is probably also an engineering test of its own. Flybys of planets to change a spacecraft’s path is not a new technique, but in the past it has been used to slingshot the probe to another object, not send it back to that planet.
On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon
, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit
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you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.
The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News