Japan has an interesting habit of forgetting to stay a minor power, then going out & doing something major in their own interesting way.
The last one I remember of these was measuring an asteroid — Itokawa — with a satellite named Hayabusa in a mission known as MUSES-C & finding it only a quarter as dense as beach sand. Any samples will be returned to Woomera, it being a safer & more obvious target than even Hokkaido.
It’s a constellation rather than a single satellite so that the two smaller orbiters (“VRAD” & “Relay”) can relay radio from each other to do things like accurately measure Lunar gravitation on the far side. They’ve done a number of such interesting things with the mission planning.
Part of the Nipponese special features include being able to include your wishes in the mission as a kind of payload. You get the rest of this month to submit your wish, which then goes Lunatic in July 2007.
I wonder how many wishes for Duke Nukem Forever will be included? Hopefully, you’ll be allowed more than 16 colours per wish. (-: