Business & Economy

Japanese firm’s historic private moon landing fails

Tokyo, Apr 26 (EFE).- A Japanese startup attempting the world’s first private moon landing said Wednesday that it had lost contact with its lander and that its mission had likely failed.

The Hakuto-R lunar lander should have reached its destination at 16:41 GMT on Tuesday, according to company ispace.

“The communication between the lander and the Mission Control Center was lost, although it was expected even after the touchdown, and it has been determined that Success 9 of the Mission Milestones is not achievable,” ispace said in a statement on Wednesday at 8 am Tokyo time (23:00 GMT Tuesday).

Success 9, or the penultimate phase of the mission, was completing the lunar landing, while the 10th and last phase consisted of establishing a stable communication system with the lander and its power supply with a view to guaranteeing its operability on the ground.

The company was able to confirm that the lander was in a vertical position as it approached the lunar surface, but “shortly after the scheduled landing time, no data was received indicating a touchdown.”

It noted that the lander’s descent speed had rapidly increased before ispace lost all communication with it.

“Based on this, it has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the Moon’s surface,” added ispace, whose engineers are working on a detailed analysis of the data received to “clarify the details” of Hakuto-R’s fate.

The founder and CEO of ispace, Takeshi Hakamada, stated that although the company does “not expect to complete the lunar landing at this time,” other mission objectives have been achieved, such as “having acquired a great deal of data and experience by being able to execute the landing phase.”

“What is important is to feed this knowledge and learning back to Mission 2 and beyond so that we can make the most of this experience,” Hakamada said in a statement, referring to the next project that ispace plans to carry out by 2024, consisting of sending another probe to the moon and deploying a rover.

The president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Hiroshi Yamakawa, said: “Today, ispace’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1 became the first private company to attempt to land on the Moon, but unfortunately, the landing could not be realized.”

“ispace will analyze the data obtained from this mission and use it as a foundation for the next mission.”

JAXA, which collaborates with the Japanese firm, “will continue to make steady progress together with ispace, the industry and organizations challenging space, and our international partners, and will contribute not only to space exploration activities but also to the sustainable development of human society,” said Yamakawa.

JAXA sent a similar mission to the moon in collaboration with NASA last November, although communication was lost a day after its launch.

The Hakuto-R lunar probe was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, last December.

Founded in 2010, ispace defines itself as a global company whose vision is to expand the planet through concrete actions such as offering low-cost, high-frequency transport services between Earth and the moon.

The firm has offices in Japan, Luxembourg and the United States, and has joint projects with NASA and the European Space Agency. EFE


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