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Japan is shooting for the moon, literally

​The H-2A rocket launched at Tanagashima Space Center in Minamitane Town, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Sept. 7, 2023.

The H-2A rocket launched at Tanagashima Space Center in Minamitane Town, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Sept. 7, 2023.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration/The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters

This weekend, Japan will attempt to become the fifth country to successfully land on the moon. The spacecraft “Moon Sniper” begins its 20-minute descent at midnight Tokyo time on Friday, armed with a small robot rover designed by the same Japanese toy company that brought us Bayblades and Transformers.


A lot is riding on this attempt: Japan has already failed to land on the moon twice, which allowed India to cruise into the fourth spot in the moon-landing club earlier this summer.

But Japan seems pretty confident that the third time will be the charm. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency even released an online landing simulator video game ahead of the launch. Go Japan! Ganbatte!

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