Kaguya (Selene) Selenological & Engineering Explorer

Published on
March 20, 2012
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Aoshima - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

A little history

This Aoshima kit represents a spacecraft that was launched at 10:31 a.m., Sept 14, 2007, from the Tanegashima Space Center. The launch vehicle was an H-IIA, the subject of another Aoshima kit, (Aoshima 151-23000). The spacecraft was named “Selene” which is a representation of the descriptive phrase, “Selenological and Engineering Explorer”.

Selenology is the branch of astronomy that studies the physical characteristics of the moon. Selene studied the physical characteristics of the moon up close and personal and, after its twenty-month mission, Selene executed a planned “hard landing” (a planned crash into the lunar surface) on June 10, 2009. The Japanese gave the vehicle the nickname “Kaguya,” after the princess in the Japanese folklore story “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.” Kaguya, or Selene, depending on your preference, consists of the Main Orbiter and two smaller satellites. A Relay Satellite and VRAD Satellite, both of which are “modeled” within this kit, were named Okina (Rstar) and Ouna (Vstar), also derived from characters in the tale. These mini-satellites took additional measurements as they orbited and acted as communication relay devices.


Assembly is straightforward and easy to accomplish. The parts fit together well and, in some cases, no glue was used. For example, in the images associated with this review, the solar panel is not glued to either the display base or the Selene spacecraft. The locating peg on the solar panel is sufficient to keep the panel where it belongs. The two mini-satellites are not glued to the Selene but are simply pressed onto some locating pins. The four “cat whiskers” antennas (included in the kit) have been slid into the locating holes, the holes being widened ever so slightly with a pin-vise.

Seam (step) lines appear on most of the smaller parts and should be removed with a quick swipe of a sanding stick. No mold release marks were found in areas that would be visible after construction.

The only challenging aspect of this project was found in Step 2. A framework is constructed, using 8 “part # 11” pieces. In order to achieve a proper alignment and fit, it is advisable to spend some time dry-fitting these parts, making sure that the attachment points between the parts, along the circumference of the rim formed by the parts when in place, is properly aligned.

When assembling the antenna in step 3, one has the option to set the angle at which the antenna is posed on the antenna support arm. While this may seem a bit trivial, it is actually a very nice feature at allows the builder to position the antenna arm with some “dynamic” to it. Aoshima could have molded the arm in a single piece rather than the two pieces (parts 13 and 24) which make up the antenna support, and are to be praised for the extra effort. Even better, the fit of the arm support pieces is so tight that glue is not required to hold them together (parts 13 and 24). Simply press-fit the two parts and you are good to go.


The painting guide on the instruction sheet is easy to follow and matches with the reference material found on the internet. There are no decals in this model, nor are any needed.

Displaying the Finished Model

With the four “cat whisker” antennas in place, the “display area” of the finished model measures to 13 inches x 13 inches, with a height of 6 inches. This is a rather big footprint for such a small spacecraft.

A display base is included, but I plan to replace it with a “lunar surface” base borrowed from a spare 1/72nd scale Apollo Lander kit.


This kit is highly recommended. Thanks to Aoshima for selecting such an interesting subject for production, thanks to Dragon/USA for providing this item, and thanks to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to do the review.


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