JAXA gives up on landing Omotenashi probe on moon

Japan's space agency has given up on a plan to land its Omotenashi probe on the moon's surface.

The unmanned lunar lander failed to establish stable communications with controllers on Earth, after it lifted off atop NASA's Space Launch System rocket from Kennedy Space Center last week.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency officials had said they would try to correct the craft's trajectory before it passed by the moon and slow down its speed in a bid to land it on the surface at around 11:55 p.m. on Monday, Japan Time.

But the officials announced at around 2 a.m. on Tuesday that they had ditched that plan, saying they didn't see any improvement in communications with the probe.

The officials said the craft couldn't charge its batteries, because its improperly oriented solar panel didn't receive sunlight.

A successful landing of the Omotenashi would have made Japan the fourth country to put a spacecraft on the lunar surface, following the former Soviet Union, the United States and China.

The agency still plans to use the Omotenashi for other pre-planned missions, such as measuring levels of radiation exposure in space, if it succeeds in improving communications with the probe.