Japan became 5th country to reach the moon after spacecraft landed on lunar surface

TOKYO — Japan became the fifth country in history to reach the moon when one of its spacecrafts without astronauts successfully made a soft landing on the lunar surface early Saturday.

However, space officials said they need more time to analyze whether the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, achieved its mission priority of making a pinpoint landing. They also said the craft’s solar panel had failed to generate power, which could shorten its activity on the moon.

Space officials believe the SLIM’s small rovers were launched as planned and that data was being transmitted back to Earth, said Hitoshi Kuninaka, head of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, a unit of Japan‘s space agency.

But he said that SLIM’s solar battery wasn’t generating power and that it had only a few more hours of battery life. He said that the priority now was for the craft to gather as much data about its landing and the moon as possible on the remaining battery.

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