Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX)
Mission type
Mission duration6 months (planned) [1]
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerLauncher and rover: JAXA
Lander: ISRO
Launch mass≈ 6,000 kg (13,000 lb) [2]
Payload mass≈ 350 kg (770 lb) (lander with rover) [3]
Start of mission
Launch date2026-28 (planned) [4]
Launch siteTanegashima, LA-Y
ContractorMitsubishi Heavy Industries
Moon lander
Spacecraft componentRover
Landing siteSouth polar region
Moon rover

The Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX)[6] is a planned joint lunar mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).[7][8] The mission would send an uncrewed lunar lander and rover to explore the south pole region of the Moon no earlier than 2026.[4][5]It is envisaged to explore the permanently shadowed regions on the Moon.[9] JAXA is likely to provide the H3 launch vehicle and the rover, while ISRO would be providing the lander.[10][11]

As per Professor Anil Bhardwaj, Director of Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), LUPEX will serve as a precursor to planned lunar sample-return mission Chandrayaan-4.[12]


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed an Implementation Arrangement (IA) in December 2017 for pre-phase A, phase A study and completed the feasibility report in March 2018 with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)[13] to explore the polar regions of Moon for water[14] with a joint Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX) that would be launched no earlier than 2026.[4][15]

ISRO and JAXA held the Joint Mission Definition Review (JMDR) in December 2018. By the end of 2019, JAXA concluded its internal Project Readiness Review.[16]

Since Chandrayaan-2's lander crashed on the Moon during its landing attempt in September 2019, India started to study a new lunar mission named Chandrayaan-3 as a repeat attempt to demonstrate the landing capabilities needed for the LUPEX.[17]

In a joint statement by JAXA and NASA on 24 September 2019, the possibilities of joining NASA's lupex mission were discussed.[18]

JAXA finished its domestic System Requirement Review (SRR) in early 2021.[19] In April 2023, LUPEX Working Group 1 arrived in India to share information of landing site analysis on promised candidate sites, methods of estimating lander and rover position on moon, information of ground antennas for command and telemetry.[20]


The Lunar Polar Exploration mission would demonstrate new surface exploration technologies related to vehicular transport and lunar night survival for sustainable lunar exploration in polar regions.[21][11] For precision landing it would utilize a feature matching algorithm and navigational equipment derived from JAXA's Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission.[2][22] The lander's payload capacity would be 350 kg (770 lb) at minimum.[3][1][23] The rover would carry multiple instruments by JAXA and ISRO including a drill to collect sub-surface samples from 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) depth.[24][1] Water prospecting and analysis are likely to be mission objectives.[10][25]

The European Space Agency's Exospheric Mass Spectrometer L-band (EMS-L) of PROSPECT mission was originally planned to fly as a payload on the Russian Luna 27 mission,[26][27] however EMS-L will now fly on this mission due to continued international collaboration being thrown into doubt by the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and related sanctions on Russia.[28][29] Payload proposals from other space agencies might be sought.[7][22]


Few selected Japanese instruments along with the candidate instruments of ISRO and ESA and the invited international collaborators by JAXA.[19][30]

Following are proposed payloads:

See also


  1. ^ a b c "国際協力による月探査計画への参画に向けて参考資料" (PDF). MEXT.GO. 29 August 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 October 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b "月離着陸実証(HERACLES)ミッションの紹介 と検討状況" (PDF). 28 January 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 November 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b Hoshino, Takeshi; Wakabayashi, Sachiko; Ohtake, Makiko; Karouji, Yuzuru; Hayashi, Takahiro; Morimoto, Hitoshi; Shiraishi, Hiroaki; Shimada, Takanobu; Hashimoto, Tatsuaki; Inoue, Hiroka; Hirasawa, Ryo; Shirasawa, Yoji; Mizuno, Hiroyasu; Kanamori, Hiroshi (November 2020). "Lunar polar exploration mission for water prospection - JAXA's current status of joint study with ISRO". Acta Astronautica. 176: 52–58. Bibcode:2020AcAau.176...52H. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2020.05.054. S2CID 219757738.
  4. ^ a b c 4th IPSC 2023 Inauguration. 22 March 2023. Event occurs at 1:18:09.
  5. ^ a b Shimbun, The Yomiuri (30 July 2019). "Japan, India to team up in race to discover water on moon". The Japan News. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  6. ^ "ISRO working on ambitious lunar missions LUPEX, Chandrayaan-4: Official". The Economic Times. 17 November 2023. ISSN 0013-0389. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  7. ^ a b "India's next Moon shot will be bigger, in pact with Japan". The Times of India. 8 September 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021. For our next mission — Chandrayaan-3 — which will be accomplished in collaboration with JAXA (Japanese Space Agency), we will invite other countries too to participate with their payloads.
  8. ^ "Global Exploration Roadmap - Supplement August 2020 - Lunar Surface Exploration Scenario Update" (PDF). NASA. August 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ Bureau, The Hindu (31 January 2024). "India's next moon mission will be precursor to the country's ambitious lunar sample return mission: PRL Director". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 1 February 2024.
  10. ^ a b "Episode 82: JAXA and International Collaboration with Professor Fujimoto Masaki". Astro Talk UK. 4 January 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  11. ^ a b Hoshino, Takeshi; Ohtake, Makiko; Karouji, Yuzuru; Shiraishi, Hiroaki (May 2019). "Current status of a Japanese lunar polar exploration mission". Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  12. ^ Krishnakumar, R. "'LUPEX will set tone for lunar sample return missions'". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 1 February 2024.
  13. ^ "Welcome to Embassy of India, Tokyo (Japan)". Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  14. ^ Harding, Robin; Kazmin, Amy (4 January 2018). "India and Japan prepare joint mission to the moon". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 4 January 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  15. ^ Goh, Deyana (8 December 2017). "JAXA & ISRO to embark on Joint Lunar Polar Exploration". SpaceTech Asia. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Progress Of Lunar Polar Exploration Mission" (PDF). October 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  17. ^ "ISRO Will Embark on Chandrayaan 3 by November 2020 for Another Landing Attempt". The WIRE. 14 November 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  18. ^ "JAXA - Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration". JAXA - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  19. ^ a b "Current Status Of The Planned Lunar Polar Exploration Mission Jointly Studied By India And Japan" (PDF). 18 March 2021. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Japanese team reviews Lunar Polar Exploration mission with ISRO". The Hindu. 27 April 2023. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 29 April 2023.
  21. ^ Sasaki, Hiroshi (17 June 2019). "JAXA's Lunar Exploration Activities" (PDF). UNOOSA. p. 8. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  22. ^ a b NASA Exploration Science Forum 2019 - Masaki Fujimoto. NASA. 23–25 July 2019. Event occurs at 3 minute 6 seconds. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  23. ^ "Objective and Configuration of a Planned Lunar Polar Exploration Mission" (PDF). 1 February 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  24. ^ "Japan Sets Sights on Moon with NASA and India". 23 October 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Six-day cruise lies ahead for India's Chandrayaan-2 probe before the real lunar shenanigans begin". The Register. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  26. ^ "ESA - Exploration of the Moon - About PROSPECT". Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  27. ^ "LUNAR DRILL | Astronika". (in Polish). Archived from the original on 25 November 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  28. ^ Witze, Alexandra (11 March 2022). "Russia's invasion of Ukraine is redrawing the geopolitics of space". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-022-00727-x. PMID 35277688. S2CID 247407886. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  29. ^ "Redirecting ESA programmes in response to geopolitical crisis". Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  30. ^ 月極域探査機(LUPEX) 【オンライン特別公開 #26】. JAXA. 7 April 2021. Event occurs at 10 minute 8 seconds. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  31. ^ a b c d e "Instrument Details ISRO-JAXA LUPEX Rover". Archived from the original on 10 August 2022.