Smart Lander for Investigating Moon: Japan space agency says spacecraft landed but still ‘checking its status’

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Japan space agency says spacecraft is on Moon but is still ‘checking its status’

Japan’s space agency has said its unmanned spacecraft is on the Moon, but it is still “checking its status”. More details will be given at a news conference, officials said.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) came down on to the lunar surface at around 12.20am Tokyo time (3.20pm GMT). If Slim landed successfully, Japan would become the fifth country to accomplish the feat after the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India.

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As the spacecraft descended, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s mission control said that everything was going as planned and later said that Slim was on the lunar surface. But there was no mention of whether the landing was successful. Mission control kept repeating that it was “checking its status” and that more information would be given at a news conference. It was not immediately clear when the news conference would start.

Slim started its descent at midnight on Saturday, and within 15 minutes it was down to about 10 kilometres (six miles) above the lunar surface, according to the space agency, which is known as JAXA.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) came down on to the lunar surface at around 12.20am Tokyo time (1520 GMT).The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) came down on to the lunar surface at around 12.20am Tokyo time (1520 GMT).
The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) came down on to the lunar surface at around 12.20am Tokyo time (1520 GMT). | The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Imag

At an altitude of five kilometres (three miles), the lander was in a vertical descent mode, then at 50 metres (165ft) above the surface, Slim was supposed to make a parallel movement to find a safe landing spot, JAXA said. About half an hour after its presumed landing, JAXA said that it was still checking the status of the lander.

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