Japan has announced that It hopes to become the fourth country to complete an unmanned moon landing, after the U.S., Russia and China. According to the Japanese space policy committee, the goal is to launch the mission in 2019. The Japanese lander is scheduled to begin development next year.
China became the third country in the world to complete an unmanned moon landing in 2013, and while Japan is a little late to the game, the mission isn't simply to land a spacecraft.
Instead, the lunar landing will be developed using new technology that will enable it to land within 100 meters of its initial goal. This is significant considering the fact that most others missed the mark by far more than 100 meters.
Japan will use a slew of new technology in the development of the lander, such as a facial recognition system that will observe the moon's surface in order to help make the proper adjustments to the lander's trajectory.
Demonstrating such accuracy will greatly increase Japan's stature in the international space community, and could lead to other space efforts either alone or in partnership with other countries. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency now works with other space agencies aboard the International Space Station, where its astronauts participated in building the station and help maintain the station's Japanese Experiment Module, called Kibo.
The Japanese government will be seeking public opinion on the lunar project and its space policies in general sometime in the next year.
Source: The Wall Street Journal