Equipment Development Has Taken Too Long Says Officials
A spokesperson for Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency (JAXA) said today it wants to scrap its planned
moon mission -- called Lunar-A -- after delays put it nearly a
decade behind schedule.
The mission, which would be Japan's first to the Lunar surface,
was to plant two seismic sensors to monitor and gather data on the
moon's core furthering scientists' knowledge on its origins.
But, the agency says, the vehicle developed to carry the two
probes to the moon has fallen into disrepair during the oft-delayed
program to build and test the two so-called penetrator probes --
the probes have been in development for ten years.
JAXA spokeswoman Satoko Kanazawa says fixing the mother ship
would be too expensive.
This is the latest in a series of recent blows to JAXA programs.
Japan was the fourth country to orbit a satellite in 1972. Since
then, JAXA has been plagued by program delays and failures. Lunar-A
isn't the only recent JAXA program to get the ax -- the agency
recently scrapped a planned mission to Mars.
Other recent woes for the agency include the destruction of a
2003 JAXA rocket carrying two spy satellites after it malfunctioned
in-flight. The agency's Hayabusa mission to collect samples from an
asteroid is also floundering with a major fuel leak and
But it's not all failure for Japan's space programs.
JAXA is the lead agency for
the Hinode (Japanese for sunrise) Mission and successfully launched
an imaging satellite in September last year. Formerly called
Solar-B, Hinode is a collaborative effort between NASA, the
European Space Agency (ESA) and JAXA. Using three different imaging
systems, Hinode will study the sun over the next three years to
better understand how its magnetic field and other solar activity
interferes with satellite communications. The satellite is still
undergoing necessary test and calibration procedures following its
launch, but so far its systems seem to be functioning as
JAXA's next mission -- already four years behind schedule --
hopes for a summer launch of SELENE, a probe carrying two small
satellites to go into orbit around the moon and measure lunar
magnetic and gravitational fields.
JAXA will review its development committee's recommendation to
cancel Lunar-A and make a final decision later this month.