Japan’s iSpace first mission to the moon fails, Hakuto-R lander crashes on the lunar surface

After five months of flying, the Hakuto-R lander of Japan’s iSpace company came to the critical moment of landing on the moon at 12:40 am on the 26th Taiwan time. It is a pity that Hakuto-R lost communication with the ground control center 1 minute before landing, and may crash into the moon. In the end, iSpace announced that the private mission to the moon ended in failure.

ispace was established more than 10 years ago. It was originally a team named after “Hakuto (White Rabbit)” to participate in the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP) competition. After the competition, ispace expanded its goals and bravely invested in the development of lunar vehicles and The lunar lander, and renamed the mission HAKUTO-R, tried to challenge the official moon landing and become the world’s first private enterprise to set an instrument on the moon.

On December 11, 2022 Eastern Time, HAKUTO-R successfully took off on a SpaceX rocket. In addition to the lander itself, it also carried a Rashid lunar rover from the United Arab Emirates. It is expected to fly in space after 5 months. The crater performs a soft landing.

At 12:40 am on April 26, 2023, Taiwan time, HAKUTO-R began to descend, but lost contact with the ground control center in the last minute before landing. The last telemetry data showed that the lander was 90 meters away from the lunar surface. Altitude, descending at 33 kilometers per hour, the team had to assume a soft landing would not be possible.

After analyzing the probe data, preliminary results show that the remaining propellant of the lander is “at a low threshold”, and the descent speed of the lander increases rapidly. If the propellant is exhausted, the engine will shut down and the lander will fall directly. Based on this, ispace announced that it is very likely that the lander will make a hard landing on the lunar surface.

Before this landing, HAKUTO-R has actually completed 8 milestones, the 9th is a successful soft landing, and the 10th is the establishment of communication with the earth after landing and the generation of stable power supply. Although the landing mission failed, ispace is very proud of his team, and the company plans to launch another lunar lander in 2024.

In the past four years, other countries that have tried to soft-land on the moon include Israel, India, and China. Only China joined the United States and the former Soviet Union to successfully complete the mission. It can be seen that lunar exploration is indeed not a simple project.

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