Japan has failed twice to make its mark on the moon in the last 12 months, but optimism surrounds its latest attempt which could see the Asian nation become the fifth country to touch the lunar surface.

“I have no reason to believe that Japan wouldn’t be successful,” said Kari Bingen, director of the Aerospace Security Project and a senior fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“The two failures they had earlier were very different ones.”

Bingen warned that despite the country’s strong space science program, the mission is “very technically sophisticated” and it will be hard.

Last month, Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched a lunar exploration spacecraft from its Tanegashima Space Center.

On board the rocket was an X-ray telescope which aims to calculate the speed and makeup of what lies between galaxies, as well as a lightweight lander that is scheduled to land on the moon in the first half of 2024, the agency said.

The Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, successfully completed the “Earth orbit phase” on Oct. 1, which meant that it had transitioned from the Earth’s orbit and is heading toward the moon.

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