JAXA scrubs launch of X-Ray telescope & SLIM lunar lander due to high winds

SLIM's landing zone
Click for interactive map.

Because of high winds, Japan’s space agency JAXA yesterday scrubbed the last launch of its H2A rocket, carrying the XRISM X-Ray telescope and the SLIM lunar lander.

A nice description of both payloads can be found here. XRISM is a simplified reflight of the Hitomi X-Ray telescope that failed immediately after launch in 2016.

Though SLIM carries a camera and two secondary payloads, both designed to hop along on the surface and obtain some data, its main mission is engineering, testing whether a robotic spacecraft can achieve a precision landing with a target zone of 100 meters, or 310 feet. The map to the right shows SLIM’s landing site, with the white dot in the close-up inset a rough approximation of that entire target zone. If successful this technology will make it possible to put unmanned planetary probes in places previously thought too dangerous or rough.

All three craft are designed to operate for only about fourteen days, during the daylight hours of the 28-Earth-day-long lunar day.

Japan officially delays next H2A rocket launch because of H3 launch failure

Japan’s space agency JAXA has now officially delayed its next H2A rocket launch, scheduled for May and carrying a Japanese lunar lander dubbed SLIM, because that rocket shares some components of Japan’s new H3 rocket, which failed during its inaugural launch in March.

No new launches are currently planned after a series of setbacks for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, including the next-generation H3 rocket’s failure and that of the smaller Epsilon-6 in October, which was ordered to self-destruct after deviating from its intended trajectory shortly after takeoff.

The earliest the H2A launch can be rescheduled for is August, due to the orbital mechanics for getting it to the Moon. There are indications however that even this date will not be met.

Japan’s H2A rocket successfully launches radar surveillance satellite

Japan’s space agency JAXA today successfully launched a radar surveillance satellite using its H2A rocket, built by Mitsubishi.

This was Japan’s first launch since December 2021, a gap of more than a year, with no launches in 2022. JAXA hopes to finally launch its unimaginatively named H3 rocket, the replacement for the H2A, on February 12, 2023, after a two year delay because of cracks found in the engines.

The 2023 launch race:

5 China
5 SpaceX
1 Rocket Lab
1 Japan