by Staff Writers
Tokyo, Japan (Sputnik) Apr 23, 2015
Japan is planning to deliver its first lander on the surface of the moon in three years, local media reported on Sunday, citing sources with close knowledge of the project.
Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is expected to unveil its plan to a governmental space policy committee on Monday, according to the Sankei Shimbun daily. A more detailed project to land the unmanned SLIM space vehicle is expected in the summer.
The publication added SLIM will be launched with the help of JAXA's Epsilon-5 carrier rocket and will be key in accumulating technology for future explorations on Mars.
The project is estimated to cost from $8 billion to $12.5 billion and JAXA is slated to start drawing from the state budget next fiscal year.
Previously, Japan launched the Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE, better known in Japan as Kaguya) into the Lunar orbit in 2007, allowing to study the Moon's surface in close detail.
SLIM's landing spot will be identified based on data sent by Kaguya over its two-year service.
The publication goes on to say the new SLIM probe will demonstrate an ability to rapidly assess surface topography and identify possible obstacles to landing.
The former Soviet Union, the United States and China are currently the only countries to have landed a mission on the moon.
Source: Sputnik International
Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
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