Moon bound: Japan’s lander enters lunar orbit

moon landing

TOKYO: Japan’s SLIM space probe entered the Moon’s orbit on Monday in a major step towards the country’s first successful lunar landing, expected next month, AFP reported.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) is nicknamed the “Moon Sniper” because it is designed to land within 100 metres (328 feet) of a specific target on the lunar surface.

If successful, the touchdown would make Japan only the fifth country to have successfully landed a probe on the Moon, after the United States, Russia, China and India.

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On Monday, SLIM “successfully entered the moon’s orbit at 04:51 pm Japan time”, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a statement released on Monday evening.

“Its trajectory shift was achieved as originally planned, and there is nothing out of the ordinary about the probe’s conditions,” the agency said.

The lander’s descent towards the moon is expected to start around 12am Japan time on January 20, with its landing on the surface scheduled for 20 minutes later, JAXA said.

The H-IIA rocket lifted off in September from the southern island of Tanegashima carrying the lander, after three postponements linked to bad weather.

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