Japanese startup launches moon mission

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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 in Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida after two postponements for additional pre-flight checks.

The spacecraft, produced by Tokyo-based startup ispace, blasted off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 2:38am, 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 chief executive officer, Takeshi Hakamada, said in a statement.