Japan's H2A rocket places satellite and probe into orbit

Japan has successfully launched an H2A rocket carrying an X-ray satellite, as well as a probe that will attempt to make the nation's first lunar landing.

The domestically produced rocket lifted off on Thursday from the Tanegashima Space Center in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima at 8:42 a.m., Japan time.

Shortly before 9 a.m., the rocket put into orbit the space observation satellite called the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, or XRISM. It was developed jointly by Japan's space agency JAXA, the US space agency NASA and others.

At around 9:30 a.m., the rocket placed the probe -- known as the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM -- into orbit at an altitude of roughly 620 kilometers.
Tasks for the unmanned probe developed by JAXA include demonstrating accurate landing techniques and examining moon rocks.

The probe is scheduled to enter lunar orbit in three or four months' time and attempt a landing in January or February.

If the mission is successful, Japan will become the fifth nation in the world to land a probe on the moon.

This was Japan's first liftoff of a large rocket since the failed debut launch of its new flagship H3 rocket in March.

JAXA had since taken measures to ensure the success of the H2A launch, including stepping up checks on parts shared by the two rockets.

Japan's H2A rockets boast a 98 percent success rate -- among the highest in the world -- when improved H2B rockets are included.