June 5, 2023

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Hard Landing: A Japanese Company’s Attempt to Land on the Moon Fails | Space News

Flight controllers at startup lose contact with the spacecraft moments before the planned landing.

A Japanese company lost contact with its spacecraft moments before it was to land on the moon, and has admitted that the mission appears to have failed.

Start-up ispace, which aims to become the first private company to land a rover on the moon, said it still could not contact the uncrewed Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander about 25 minutes after it was due to land. The surface of the moon.

“It has been determined that there is a high probability that the probe ultimately made a hard landing,” iSpace said in a statement, adding that its engineers are working to understand why the landing failed.

A live telemetry animation of the spacecraft showed the M1 probe was about to land at around 16:40 GMT Tuesday after it came within about 90 meters (295 feet) of the lunar surface.

Communications then ceased when the vehicle descended the last 10 meters (33 ft), traveling around 25 kilometers per hour (16 mph). Flight controllers peered across their screens in Tokyo, expressionless, as the minutes passed without a word from the probe.

The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the United States on a SpaceX rocket in December and has completed several mission objectives leading up to its landing attempt.

“We believe we have fully accomplished the importance of this mission, having gained a great deal of data and experience,” said Takeshi Hakamada, CEO and founder of ispace, as he acknowledged the failure to land.

“The important thing is to feed that knowledge and learn again for Mission 2 and beyond,” he added.

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white rabbit

Only three countries have succeeded in landing on the moon: Russia, the United States and China.

India also attempted to land a spacecraft on the moon in 2016, but it crashed, and an Israeli non-profit organization attempted in 2019, but its spacecraft crashed on impact.

Two US companies, Astrobotic and Intuitive Instruments, are set to attempt a moon landing later this year.

“Congratulations to the ispace inc team for achieving a large number of milestones en route to today’s landing attempt,” Astrobotic said in a tweet.

“We hope everyone realizes – today is not the day we stray from pursuing the limits of the moon, but an opportunity to learn from adversity and move forward.”

The Japanese 2.3-meter (7.5-foot) lander carried a small lunar rover for the United Arab Emirates and a toy-like robot from Japan designed to spin in the moon dust. There were also items of special agents on board.

Dubbed the White Rabbit by Japan’s Hakuto, the spacecraft targeted Atlas Crater in the northeastern part of the moon’s near side, more than 87 kilometers (54 miles) across and about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) deep.

Hakuto took a long, circuitous route to the Moon after its December liftoff, sending back images of Earth along the way.

With only 200 employees, ispace said it “aims to extend human life into space and create a sustainable world by providing high-frequency, low-cost transportation services to the moon.”

Ispace believes that the Moon will support 1,000 people by 2040, with 10,000 visitors each year.

It plans a second mission, tentatively scheduled for next year, that includes a moon landing and deployment of its rover.

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