Baku, April 20, AZERTAC
The Japanese space agency is planning to launch a small spacecraft in fiscal 2018 that would make the country's first landing on the moon, sources close to the project said, according to Kyodo News.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has said it will study the possible use of materials on the moon as well as its environment with unmanned probes, which could pave the way for manned missions in the future.
JAXA is expected to brief a government panel of experts on the project, aiming to secure funding for preparations under the state budget for fiscal 2016, which will start in April next year, the sources said.
The planned mission, involving the experimental Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, will become Japan's first lunar exploration since JAXA launched an unmanned orbiter in 2007.
SLIM is likely to be launched on an Epsilon advanced rocket, the sources said.
The SLIM mission is aimed at establishing a method of pinpoint landing on the moon that would make it possible to approach a target area with the level of accuracy of hundreds meters, compared with kilometers so far.