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Japan suspends the launch of the H-IIA rocket to launch the moon due to strong winds

Japan suspends the launch of the H-IIA rocket to launch the moon due to strong winds

H-IIA launch vehicle No. 47 is seen on the launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center on southwestern Tanegashima Island, Japan in this photo by Kyodo on Aug. 28, 2023. Kyodo/via Reuters Obtain licensing rights

  • The MHI launch operator suspends the launch due to high-altitude winds
  • A new launch date will be determined, but it will not be earlier than August 31 -MHI
  • The SLIM moon lander is on board to brave recent setbacks in Japan’s space development

TOKYO, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Japan’s space agency has suspended a launch scheduled for Monday of a rocket carrying what may be Japan’s first spacecraft to land on the moon, as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) (7011.T) cited high winds. .

Although the H-IIA missile, Japan’s flagship launch vehicle, achieved a launch success rate of 98%, unfavorable wind conditions in the upper atmosphere forced the suspension 27 minutes before its planned liftoff.

“High-altitude winds hit our launch barrier…which was adjusted to ensure no impact from falling debris outside of pre-warned areas,” said Tatsuro Tokunaga, launch unit chief at MHI H-IIA.

Strong winds of about 108 kilometers per hour (67 mph) were observed at altitudes between 5,000 and 15,000 meters (16,400-49,200 feet), Michio Kawakami, safety director at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), said. He added that multiple typhoons across Japan may have affected wind conditions.

Tokunaga said the new launch date has yet to be decided, but it will not be until Thursday due to necessary operations such as refueling. MHI and JAXA said the launch could take place as late as September 15.

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The rocket was scheduled to launch from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on Monday morning. It has already been postponed twice since last week due to bad weather. This will mark the 47th anniversary of the launch of the H-IIA in Japan.

Mission “Moon Sniper”.

The rocket carries the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Intelligent Lunar Exploration Lander (SLIM), which will be the first Japanese spacecraft to land on the moon. ispace company’s Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander (9348.T) based in Tokyo crashed into the lunar surface in April.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency had planned to start SLIM’s descent from lunar orbit in January and February 2024 after Monday’s launch, aiming to follow up on the success of India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar exploration mission this month.

SLIM mission dubbed “Moon Sniper”. Seek To achieve a high-precision landing within 100 meters of its target on the lunar surface, a technological leap from the conventional lunar landing accuracy of several kilometers, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The rocket also carries a satellite for the X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), a joint project of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NASA and the European Space Agency.

The H-IIA, jointly developed by JAXA and MHI, has been Japan’s leading space launch vehicle, with 45 successful launches in 46 attempts since 2001. However, after JAXA’s new medium-lift H3 rocket failed on its first launch In March, the agency postponed the launch. H-IIA No. 47 launched several months to investigate the cause.

Despite its goal of sending astronauts to the lunar surface in the late 2020s, Japanese space missions have faced setbacks recently, with a failed launch of a small Epsilon rocket in October 2022, followed by an engine explosion during a test last month.

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(This story has been repackaged to restore the deleted “a” in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Kantaro Komiya and Rocky Swift; Reporting by Mohamed for The Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Kim Coghill and Jerry Doyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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Kantaro writes about everything from Japanese economic indicators to North Korean missiles to the global regulation of AI companies. His past stories have appeared in The Associated Press, Bloomberg, The Japan Times, and Rest of the World. Kantaro, a native of Tokyo, graduated from Debau University in the United States and received the 2020 Scholar of the Year Award from the Foreign Press Club Foundation.

Reports mainly on pharmaceuticals, retail trade and breaking news in Japan. He previously worked for the US State Department and for Bloomberg News before that. New Florida College and University of Hawaii Alum. A former colleague of Poynter and James.