Japan launched a lunar exploration spacecraft on a homegrown H-IIA rocket on Thursday in an effort to become the fifth country in the world to land on the moon.
As of August 2023, only four countries had achieved this feat, with the latest being India. The United States, Russia, and China have all visited the moon.
According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the rocket successfully launched the Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM) from Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan.
After several postponements last month due to unfavourable weather conditions, Japan’s “moon sniper” mission intends to land the SLIM spacecraft only 100 metres from its intended target area on the lunar surface.
After a lengthy, fuel-efficient approach trajectory, the mission, which is reportedly worth $100 million, is anticipated to begin the landing by February.