HAKUTO-R – 1st private moon lander – loses contact
ispace CEO discusses HAKUTO-R – first private moon lander – after losing contact with the craft.
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Japanese aerospace company ispace attempted the first private mission to land on the moon yesterday (April 25, 2023). The mission was called HAKUTO-R. Many watched excitedly as the moment of landing approached, but, suddenly, the team lost contact with the lander. Ispace had said it wants to aid in the exploration and development of the lunar surface. It said it wanted to contribute:
… to the construction of a cosmic-scale sphere of life that will support humankind.
But this first attempt met a bitter end.
This was the first of three planned missions. The second mission, scheduled for 2024, was to include a rover. And the third mission’s goal was to deploy swarms of rovers for discovery and development.
The overall goal is the steady development of the lunar industry for a human presence on the moon.
At this writing, the company’s plans are unknown.
ispace anxiously waiting for landing confirmation inside Tokyo mission control pic.twitter.com/2acxyZvmrG
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) April 25, 2023
Journey to the moon
The HAKUTO-R mission launched to the moon in December 2022. It was carrying a number of government and commercial payloads. This was the beginning of what ispace hoped to become a regular commercial enterprise.
Before losing contact with Earth, as it neared the moon, the spacecraft had sent back some amazing images. It even caught the shadow of the moon on Earth during the April 20, 2023, eclipse, with the moon in the foreground.
10 steps to reach the moon
Here are the 10 steps it took to reach the moon. The team has not yet uncovered what caused the mission to fail, but it occurred in the very last moments of landing in step 9.
Crash(?) landing on the moon
The lander aimed for Atlas Crater on the moon. The team had three backup locations in case anomalies required last-minute changes to the landing site. The company chose Atlas Crater to get 12 days of sunlight on the lunar surface. They also wanted a relatively flat surface that still had geologic diversity.
Ispace will certainly try again. Best wishes for future success!
Bottom line: On April 25, 2023, ispace attempted to achieve the first private moon landing with their HAKUTO-R mission. The team lost contact with the lander in the last moments.