Japan suspends launch of rocket carrying moon lander because of wind



The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) suspended a planned launch on Monday of an H-IIA rocket that was to carry a moon lander into space, according to launch operator Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).

The launch was cancelled because wind conditions in the upper atmosphere did not satisfy constraints, MHI's launch services unit said in a post on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, 24 minutes before the planned launch time.

The H-IIA rocket, carrying JAXA's lunar landing spacecraft Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) and an X-ray imaging satellite, was planned to be launched from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 9:26 a.m. local time (0026 GMT) on Monday.

The Japanese flagship launch vehicle was said to have a 98-percent launch success rate, but unsuitable wind conditions forced a suspension less than 30 minutes before the planned liftoff.

"High-altitude winds hit our constraint for a launch... which had been set to ensure no impact from falling debris outside of pre-warned areas," said MHI's launch unit chief Tatsuru Tokunaga.

A new launch date has not been decided, but will be no sooner than Thursday because of necessary processes such as re-fuelling, he added. MHI and JAXA have said a launch could take place as late as September 15.

It had already been postponed twice since last week because of bad weather. It will mark the 47th H-IIA Japan has launched.

Tokyo-based startup ispace's Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander crashed on the lunar surface in April.