With the recent setback of the Chinese lunar orbiter, Japan may be able to beat its Asian rival towards Earth's nearest neighbor.
Although the samurai nation has yet to demonstrate an ability to launch a human into space, their lunar satellite will nonetheless aid in our path to colonizing the moon by providing invaluable data of its surface.
(Chron.com) All systems are finally go for Japan's first lunar orbiter, which is scheduled for launch on Aug. 16, officials announced today. [...]
JAXA says the SELENE project is the largest lunar mission since the U.S. Apollo program.
It involves placing a main satellite in orbit at an altitude of about 60 miles and deploying two smaller satellites in polar orbits. Researchers will use data gathered by the probes to study the moon's origin and evolution.
Hopefully this mission will not only narrow down habitation sites in the polar regions (where the Sun never sets) but also locate resources throughout this cream colored world. If the Japanese are able to locate places of interest, they may be able to use that information with NASA in exchange for a lift to the lunar surface.
Hopefully Japan will be able to pull this mission off in a couple of months, as it would help boost the appeal of traveling to the stars not only within Japan, but internationally as well.
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