The world's smallest moon lander OMOTENASHI will be launched Wednesday afternoon by a U.S. rocket, Japan's space agency said Tuesday, as it aims to successfully soft-land a craft on the lunar surface for the first time.
The CubeSat will travel to deep space with EQUULEUS, a Japanese nanosatellite heading to the Moon's far side, on board the U.S.-led Artemis I mission, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
At 11 centimeters long, 24 cm wide, and 37 cm high, OMOTENASHI is set to land on the Moon's surface at 180 kilometers per hour.
While shock absorbers and resin will protect the nanosatellite, JAXA estimates a 60 percent chance that it will successfully transmit radio waves that reach Earth after arriving on the lunar surface.
OMOTENASHI, which stands for Outstanding MOon exploration TEchnologies demonstrated by NAno Semi-Hard Impactor, is one of the secondary payloads of Artemis I, the first flight of the Space Launch System rocket developed by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The deep space rocket's first flight, originally scheduled for August, has been repeatedly postponed due to a series of engine sensor failures and fuel leaks.
EQUULEUS, which stands for EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft, aims to reach Lagrange Point 2, an Earth-Moon orbit where the gravitational pull of the two bodies equals the centripetal force required for small-mass objects to move with them.
JAXA has been searching for efficient ways to reach this orbital point as it holds promise to become an optimal base for advanced space development.