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Japan's XRISM space telescope and SLIM lunar lander

On September 7th 2023 at 2:42 AM Moscow time, Japan's HII-A rocket launched the XRISM space telescope and SLIM lunar lander from Tanegashima Space Center. The dual mission lifted off after multiple weather delays since late August. The launch window extended to September 15th.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed XRISM's separation from the rocket's upper stage 14 minutes 9 seconds after liftoff. SLIM separated 47 minutes 33 seconds into flight. Shortly after, XRISM deployed its solar panels and began activating onboard systems in low Earth orbit. SLIM embarked on its approximately 6-month journey to the Moon's surface.

XRISM represents Japan's most important 2023 space mission. Developed collaboratively by JAXA, NASA, and ESA, it carries an X-ray imager and cryogenic spectrometer to precisely measure cosmic plasma states. Its 3-year nominal lifespan is constrained by the cryocooler's helium reserves.

After initial calibration and verification, XRISM will commence health checks and science operations 3-9 months post-launch. Meanwhile, SLIM will demonstrate robotic lunar landing capabilities as Japan's first Moon surface probe. This follows recent lunar landing attempts by India's Chandrayaan-3 and Russia's Luna 25.

SLIM will follow a fuel-efficient route to the Moon, reaching up to 1.5 million km before returning to lunar orbit. Its arrival is expected between late 2023 and early 2024 depending on transit conditions. SLIM will showcase precision landing within 100 meters to aid future Japanese lunar exploration.

The successful launch of XRISM and SLIM underscores Japan's space technology prowess. While XRISM opens new horizons in X-ray astronomy, SLIM poised to expand Japan's presence on the Moon and further humanity's lunar understanding.

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