Japan launches H2A rocket carrying lunar lander
Japan launched an H2A rocket on Thursday carrying a lunar lander that will attempt to make the nation's first lunar landing, after three postponements in a week last month due to bad weather.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said the rocket lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima at 8:42am local time.
On board the rocket is JAXA's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, whose tasks include demonstrating accurate landing techniques and examining moon rocks.
The SLIM's lunar landing is scheduled for early next year. If the mission is successful, Japan will become the fifth country in the world to land a probe on the moon.
The domestically made rocket also carries the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, or XRISM, to observe plasma in stars and galaxies.
This is the first launch of a Japanese large rocket since the debut launch of the next-generation H3 rocket failed in March.