Launch of KAGUYA/H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 13 Launch of KAGUYA/H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 13 Top

From Project Manager

Project Manager Yoshisada Takizawa

The launch of KAGUYA (SELENE, SELenological and ENgineering Explorer), which opens up a new age of lunar exploration in the 21st century, is coming soon. Preparations are underway at the Tanegashima Space Center.

Many lunar explorers, such as the Apollo program, were launched to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. These explorers collected a large amount of data regarding the moon and led to new discoveries - such as the geological differences between the near and far sides of the moon. However, lunar exploration in those days was undertaken in the context of a race to land a man on the moon's surface and the data gathered were not intended or sufficient in support of serious research into the origin and evolution of the moon.

KAGUYA will globally gather data on chemical element distribution, mineral distribution, topographical/surface structures, gravity field and the environment of the moon, all with higher resolutions than past lunar missions - by 14 sophisticated scientific missions. All of the data gathered by KAGUYA will bring us new scientific knowledge for research of the origin and evolution of the moon. The lunar missions of China and India are scheduled to be launched in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Both missions also aim to collect data for the research to the origin and evolution of the moon as well.

Meanwhile, NASA is planning to deploy a manned lunar mission in the near future. As part of its preliminary research, NASA is going to launch a lunar orbiter in 2008 - to obtain data for the planning of the manned exploration. NASA will also utilize data from KAGUYA for preparatory study of the manned lunar missions. Thus, KAGUYA will also contribute to the manned exploration of the moon.

In addition, KAGUYA carries a high-definition television camera and will take a movie of the beautiful Earth rising from the Moon's horizon for broadcasting on Earth.