A Japanese company tried to land its own spacecraft on the moon early Wednesday, but its fate was unknown as flight controllers lost contact with it moments before the planned touchdown.
Flight controllers peered at their screens in Tokyo, expressionless, as the minutes went by with still no word from the lander.
A webcast commentator urged everyone to be patient, as the controllers investigated what might have happened.
“Everyone, please give us a few minutes to confirm,” he urged.
If successful, the company ispace would be the first private business to pull off a lunar landing.
Only three governments have successfully landed on the moon: Russia, the United States and China. The spacecraft carried a mini lunar rover for the United Arab Emirates and a toylike robot from Japan designed to roll around in the moon dust. There were also items from private customers on board.