An artist's conception of what the Planet-B spacecraft looks like while orbiting Mars.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
Japanese Space Program Takes Off...
News story originally written on July 13, 1998
After a long, slow struggle, the Japanese space program is taking off! Japan's space program started with the launching of pencil-sized rockets in the 1950's. They struggled to finally build a rocket that could put probes into deep space. Just last week, Japan's struggle came to an end.
On July 4, 1998, the Planet-B probe was launched by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). Planet-B is on its way to Mars to study the Martian atmosphere, and its interaction with the solar wind. The probe was built, launched and will be controlled solely by Japan. Planet-B will reach Mars in October making Japan the third country (along with Russia and the U.S.) to reach another planet.
This successful launch has paved the way for future Japanese missions. In the next years, they are hoping to send a mission to the Moon, to an asteroid, and to Mercury.
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