If all goes to plan, Jaxa’s lander will make Japan the fifth country ever to land on the moon

Japan is on final approach to become only the fifth country to land on the moon, in what would be a reversal of fortunes as it attempts to join a global space race centred on unravelling the mysteries of the lunar landscape.

If all goes to plan, the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (Slim) will begin its descent to the rocky lunar surface at midnight on Friday (1500 GMT) before touching down about 20 minutes later, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa).

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