Monday, July 23, 2007

Japan Saves Its Lunar Mission For Another Day Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Image: Artist drawing of SELENE satellites, Credit: JAXA, via MSNBC)

With news of the Japanese delaying their satellite mission to the moon, some may wonder if Japan has what it takes to not only pull ahead of China, but establish itself as a space power.

While some may write off the Japanese space program as "third rate," upon closer examination it looks as if the Japanese are making sure their satellites voyage off world is a successful one.

(MSNBC) The Selenological and Engineering Explorer — or SELENE — probe was to have been launched aboard one of the space program's mainstay H-2A rockets on Aug. 17, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said in a statement issued Friday.

However, during an inspection it was discovered that some components were improperly installed on the two smaller satellites that accompany the main orbiter, JAXA said. The components will be replaced, and a new launch date will be announced once it has been determined, it said.

Japan's SELENE mission will give the Japanese space program an edge over its rivals by providing crucial data on the lunar terrain and perhaps help Japan locate valuable resources on the Moon's far side. Two of the smaller satellites will observe their respective poles, while the third larger satellite will hover about 100 kilometers above the surface.

Although news of the delay is disappointing and a setback for the Asian nation, it is better to enter the space arena "slow and steady," than to burn out like a shooting star.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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