JAXA is really starting to do its thing. The Japan Aero Space program is contributing to the knowledge of space flight and to the origins of our solar system.
Not only has Japan sent the world’s first woman astronaut into space, it also gave rise to and allowed the first international astronaut to fly on a Russian Soyuz mission. Cmdr Furukawa went to the space station on a Russian vessel. These are both significant firsts in their own right.
Kaguya, while not quite as famous as the highly acclaimed Hyabusa Asteroid mission, has also completed a significant first that will help NASA decide in the relatively near future what its intentions are for addition lunar exploration missions. Kaguya orbited the moon at a distance of 60 miles, the same speed, altitude and approach angle of the Apollo Command Module orbits, and with a varying course managed to photograph and map the entire lunar surface, including the Dark Side, to within an 80-cm pixel resolution. Expect a nice table top book to come out shortly!
Kaguya 2 is already planned and budget-approved by JAXA for 2014. Go Go!
Martin Werner Zander, Smith’s Partner
Owner, Smith’s School in Kotoen