Amid an international space race, anticipation is building as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s lunar lander gears up for Saturday’s touchdown on the moon’s surface, putting the agency's pinpoint landing technology to the test in a mission that could accelerate international space exploration.

Nicknamed “Moon Sniper,” JAXA’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) is on its way to the lunar surface, having successfully entered lunar orbit in late December and begun its preparation for a landing earlier this week. It will be lowered to 15 kilometers above the lunar surface on Friday.

The spacecraft will then begin its final descent early Saturday morning at midnight. The plan is for it to perform a two-step stable touchdown on the sloped grounds near the Shioli crater, to the west of Mare Nectaris on the near side of the moon. It is scheduled to land at 12:20 a.m.