Japan’s space agency announced this week that the country would put an unmanned rover on the surface of the moon by 2018, joining an elite club of nations who have explored Earth’s satellite.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), divulged the plan to an expert panel, including members of the cabinet and the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry on Monday.
“This is an initial step and a lot of procedures are still ahead before the plan is formally approved,” a JAXA spokesperson told reporters.
If it is approved, the agency will reportedly use its Epsilon solid-fuel rocket technology to carry and deploy a SLIM probe — the acronym stands for “Smart Lander for Investigating Moon” — on the surface of the celestial body.
Japanese media estimates that the mission will cost in the region of ¥10 billion to ¥15 billion ($83.4 million – $125 million). JAXA spokesperson Chihito Onda confirmed to CNN that this estimate is realistic.
The mission is expected to be used to perfect soft-landing technologies, which could be utilized in future, manned expeditions to the moon, or even Mars.
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SOURCE: CNN, Euan McKirdy