Japan’s SLIM Lunar Probe Heads toward Moon

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An H2A rocket launches from the Tanegashima Space Center on Sept. 7, in Tanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced Monday that the SLIM lunar probe has left Earth’s orbit and is heading toward the moon, for what could be Japan’s first lunar landing. The agency said there were no abnormalities with the probe.

SLIM was launched in September using Japan’s mainstay H2A rocket. The engine was ignited at 2:42 a.m. on Monday, setting the probe on a trajectory toward the moon. When it nears the moon, it will change its trajectory using the moon’s gravity. After temporarily moving away from the moon, the probe should enter lunar orbit around the end of the year and attempt a lunar landing around January to February next year.