The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is planning to attempt the nation’s first lunar landing in fiscal 2018, Kyodo news agency reported, citing sources close to the project.
The space agency is expected to brief a government panel on the project with the aim of securing funding for the mission, the report said.
JAXA has said it will use unmanned probes to study the possible use of materials on the moon as well as its environment, which could pave the way for future manned missions.
The mission, which will involve the experimental Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), will represent Japan’s first lunar exploration attempt since JAXA launched an unmanned orbiter in 2007.
SLIM is likely to be launched on an Epsilon advanced rocket, according to the report.
In 2013, a Chinese probe made the world’s first soft landing on the moon in nearly 40 years, joining both the United States and the former Soviet Union as the only countries to achieve the feat.
Only the United States has achieved a manned moon landing.
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