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Japan abandons hope for first moon probe landing

JAXA unable to fix communications link to tiny craft

The box-shaped OMOTENASHI craft would have been the smallest probe ever to touch down on the moon. (Image courtesy of JAXA)

TOKYO -- Japan has abandoned efforts to land its ultrasmall OMOTENASHI probe on the moon, the country's space agency said Tuesday, dashing hopes for the nation's first-ever lunar landing.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's spacecraft, launched Wednesday on NASA's Artemis I mission, has been plagued by communications problems since it separated from the Space Launch System rocket that night. JAXA hoped to attempt a landing as soon as Monday night if all went well, but the agency failed to restore communications in time.

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