Japan Sets Its Sights on the Moon

China, India lead race to put unmanned craft on lunar surface

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 9, 2007 12:26 PM CDT

(Newser) – Japan is officially joining the ranks of countries intent on lunar exploration. The country plans to land an unmanned rover on the lunar surface "in the middle of the 2010s," a government official announced today. China and India have already announced plans to place a spacecraft on the mysterious satellite, Reuters reports.

Japan has already crash-landed a rocket on the moon, and last week it put a satellite into lunar orbit. The country's rover will examine the moon’s geology, searching for natural resources. Although Japan has never attempted a manned spaceflight, the country hopes to put men on the moon by 2025.

An H2-A rocket is prepared at space center in Tanegashima, southern Japan Thursday night, Sept. 13, 2007. Japan's space agency is to launch its long-delayed lunar orbiter on Friday. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
An H2-A rocket is prepared at space center in Tanegashima, southern Japan Thursday night, Sept. 13, 2007. Japan's space agency is to launch its long-delayed lunar orbiter on Friday. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)   (Associated Press)
A domestically-developed H2-A rocket, carrying a lunar orbiter, lifts off from the Tanegashima  Space Center in Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture (State), southern Japan, Friday morning, Sept. 14, 2007. Japan's space agency launched its much-delayed probe named Selenological and Engineering Explorer Friday, beginning what it calls the largest mission to the moon...
A domestically-developed H2-A rocket, carrying a lunar orbiter, lifts off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture (State), southern Japan, Friday morning, Sept. 14, 2007....   (Associated Press)
A ring-shaped cloud appears around the top of a rapidly-rising H2-A rocket, carrying a lunar orbiter, after it lifted off from the Tanegashima  Space Center in Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture (State), southern Japan, Friday morning, Sept. 14, 2007. Japan's space agency launched its much-delayed probe named Selenological and Engineering Explorer Friday,...
A ring-shaped cloud appears around the top of a rapidly-rising H2-A rocket, carrying a lunar orbiter, after it lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture (State),...   (Associated Press)
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