The attempt to land the private spacecraft on the Moon has failed.
Japan’s ispace, Inc. hoped that its Hakuto R lander would land in the Atlas crater of the moon after a 100 day journey.
The signal was lost after the lander completed its final orbit around the moon and decelerated from 6000 km/h to walking pace, a few metres over the surface.
Takeshi Hakamada CEO of ispace said: “We must assume that we cannot complete the landing on the surface of the moon.”
The lander was equipped with two small moon rovers developed by the UAE, Rashid and a spherical rover called SoraQ.
The mission, while not necessarily breaking any new ground in terms of exploration, was closely monitored.
The moon’s commercial potential is now a realistic possibility thanks to technological advances and falling costs of space launches.
Space, as they say, is hard.
In 2019, an Israeli private lander, developed by SpaceIL, crashed while trying to land on the Moon.
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Only the US, former USSR, and China have successfully performed “soft landings” on the moon.
Other commercial moon missions have followed closely behind Hakuto-R despite its apparent failure.
Astrobiotic, a US-based company, hopes to launch its Peregrine lunar lander as early as June. Intuitive Machines of Houston, Texas is planning to launch twin moon landers named Nova-C later this year.
ispace will return next year with a second lander, followed by a new one that will carry commercial payloads into orbit and to the surface of the moon.