WASHINGTON: A Japanese startup’s spacecraft was launched to the Moon on Sunday in the country’s first-ever lunar mission and the first of its kind by a private company.

The launch was carried out by Elon Musk’s SpaceX at Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida after two postponements for additional pre-flight checks.

SpaceX postpones mission to put Japanese lander on Moon

The spacecraft, produced by Tokyo-based startup ispace and carrying a UAE-built rover, blasted off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 2:38 am (0738 GMT), live footage of the launch showed. “Our first mission will lay the groundwork for unleashing the Moon’s potential and transforming it into a robust and vibrant economic system,” the startup’s CEO, Takeshi Hakamada, said in a statement.

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