The SLIM robot, with which Japan is once again trying to make its debut on the surface of the Moon, entered the orbit of Earth’s natural satellite this Monday, the country’s space agency announced.
According to the Jaxa space agency, the SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon – Intelligent Landing Module for Investigating the Moon) was inserted into lunar orbit at 16:51 in Tokyo (07:51 in Lisbon).
The robot’s descent and landing is scheduled for January 19 and, if successful, will make Japan the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the Moon, after the United States, Russia, China and India.
The rocket carrying the robot took off in September from the Japanese space base in Tanegashima after two cancellations.
Japan previously failed two attempts to launch a spacecraft, the first in November 2022 and the second in April 2023, the latter being carried out by a private company.
According to the Kyodo news agency, a Japanese astronaut could set foot on lunar soil for the first time as part of the new North American Artemis program, with which the United States intends to return to the surface of the Moon from 2025.
Only North American astronauts, all men, were on the surface of the Moon between 1969 and 1972.
The United States aims to graduate the first female astronaut and the first black astronaut in 2025.
Before that, in November 2024, they plan to place the first female astronaut, the first black astronaut, both North Americans, and the first Canadian astronaut into orbit around the Moon.