Sat, Oct 06, 2007
"A Big Step" For JAXA
Japan is now one step ahead of China
and India in an increasingly-heated Asian space race. Japanese
officials say their first satellite is now orbiting the
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tells The
Associated Press the probe was sent into lunar orbit early Friday,
local time, after completing a complicated navigational maneuver.
The probe will gradually move into orbit closer to the surface to
the moon before conducting a year-long observational mission.
Project manager Yoshisada Takizawa says, "We believe this is a
big step... Everything is going well and we are confident."
As ANN reported last month,
it's been a tough road for the "Kaguya" probe, which is named for a
beautiful moon princess in Japanese folklore. The mission has been
plagued with technical problems for several years.
So plagued, the mission even faced cancellation earlier this
Japanese officials claim the $279 million Selenological and
Engineering Explorer -- or SELENE -- is the largest lunar mission
since the US Apollo program in terms of overall scope and ambition.
If the price tag is accurate, the project far outpaces the former
Soviet Union's Luna program, and NASA's Clementine and Lunar
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