Skip to main content

Today in Space! Sept. 13, 2007: Japan Launches 'Kaguya' Moon Mission

Welcome to "Today in Space," where we peer back in our archives to find historic moments in spaceflight and astronomy. So enjoy a blast from the past with's Hanneke Weitering to look back at what happened on this day in space!

On Sept. 13, 2007, Japan launched the Kaguya spacecraft on a mission to the moon. Formally known as SELENE (SELenological and ENgineering Explorer), it was Japan's second moon mission. 

Kaguya launched from Tanegashima Space Center on a Japanese H-2A rocket and looped around the Earth twice before heading to the moon. It carried 14 science instruments and two microsatellites to map the moon's surface and study its gravitational field. 

This artist's interpretation shows Japan's Kaguya satellite in lunar orbit after jettisoning one of its smaller satellites.
(Image credit: JAXA/Akihiro Ikeshita.)

After a 20-day journey, it arrived in lunar orbit. The mission consisted of three spacecraft: a main orbiter, a small communications satellite, and a third small satellite to map the moon's gravitational field. After about a year of lunar observations, the mission ended with a planned crash landing on the lunar surface. And it all happened today in space! 

Catch up on our entire "Today in Space" series on YouTube with the playlist here

Email Hanneke Weitering at or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at