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Japan's first mission to the moon, delayed more than 10 years, may be canceled by the Japanese space agency

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scrapping its unmanned Lunar-A mission to the moon, after more than a decade of delays.  JAXA initially planned on launching its first mission to the moon in 1995, but the mission was delayed because scientists were unable to get the seismic probes implemented properly.  The scientists will finish developing the probes, but it is unknown how JAXA will use them.

The Lunar-A space probe was originally supposed to plant two seismic sensors on the moon's surface to assist scientists trying to learn more about the moon's core.  However, the mission's mother ship, built around 10 years ago, is in need of repairs and would simply cost too much to properly fix for launch, according to Satoko Kanazawa, JAXA spokeswoman.  

The Lunar-A has had a "postponed" classification since its last delay in 2004, after which a 2004 JAXA review was conducted.  A confirmation decision on the scrapped mission is expected sometime this month, with the probe being used on another mission as a viable option.

In August 2006, JAXA announced it would explore the possibility of a manned lunar station.  This station also appears to have hit the chopping blocks.

To date, only the United States, European Union and Russia have successfully landed probes on the Earth's moon.  China also has high hopes of its space program to head to the moon for data gathering purposes.




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