Japan put its first satellite in lunar orbit Friday, calling it the most ambitious moon mission since the US Apollo project and placing the country a step ahead of China and India in an increasingly heated space race in Asia.
The probe was successfully injected into orbit around the moon after completing a complicated navigational maneuver late Thursday, space agency officials said Friday. After gradually moving into a lower orbit, the probe is to conduct a year-long observational mission.
"We believe this is a big step," said project manager Yoshisada Takizawa. "Everything is going well and we are confident."