Fri, Sep 14, 2007
Probe Due To Arrive In Early October
Japan is heading to the moon. Early
Friday morning, local time, Japan's first lunar orbiter launched
successfully from the small island of Tanegashima, off the southern
tip of Kyushu Island.
The "Kaguya" probe -- also known as SELENE -- represents the
largest mission to investigate the lunar surface since the Apollo
program ended in 1972, according to Agence-France Presse. The probe
carries two small satellites to go into orbit around the moon and
measure lunar magnetic and gravitational fields.
The moonbound probe separated from its H-2A rocket booster after
45 minutes after launch, according to AFP.
"We successfully launched the rocket and released the orbiter
from the rocket," said Eriko Sunada, a spokeswoman for the Japan
Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Tokyo.
It has been a tough road for Kaguya, which is named for a
beautiful moon princess in Japanese folklore. The mission has been
plagued with technical problems for several years; as ANN reported, the mission
even faced cancellation earlier this year.
The probe will orbit Earth several times to gather speed, before
heading for a lunar rendezvous in early October, JAXA officials
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