(CTN News) – On Wednesday, Japanese start-up ispace admitted that its quest to become the first firm to land on the moon had failed, but committed to press forward with new missions.
The unmanned Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander was supposed to settle on the moon’s surface overnight, but the corporation was unable to make contact roughly 25 minutes after the touchdown.
“It has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the moon’s surface,” stated ispace in a statement.
The ispace stated that its engineers were investigating why the landing had failed
“Although we do not expect to complete the lunar landing at this time, we believe that we have fully accomplished the significance of this mission, having acquired a great deal of data and experience,” stated ispace CEO and founder Takeshi Hakamada.
“What is important is to feed this knowledge and learning back into Mission 2 and beyond,” he continued.
He stated that the company is presently working on two more efforts to land on the lunar surface, and that the delay will not change that.
Nonetheless, the suspected crash will be a disappointing end to a mission that began in December with the lander’s launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The ship was carrying payloads from various countries, including the United Arab Emirates’ lunar rover.
Ryo Ujiie, chief technology officer, teared up as he spoke to reporters, calling the attempt a “very precious experience.”
The lander, which stands just over 2m tall and weighs 340kg, entered lunar orbit last month.
The craft’s descent and landing were completely automated, and it was expected to re-establish communication as soon as it touched down.
Only the United States, Russia, and China have successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon’s surface, all through government-sponsored initiatives.
SpaceIL, an Israeli firm, witnessed their lander fall into the Moon’s surface in April 2019.
In 2016, India attempted to land a spacecraft on the moon, but it crashed.
Later this year, two US companies, Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, plan to attempt lunar landings.
“We congratulate the ispace inc team on accomplishing a significant number of milestones on their way to today’s landing attempt,” Astrobotic said in a tweet.
“We hope everyone understands that today is not the day to abandon the lunar frontier, but rather a chance to learn from adversity and push forward.”
Before the collapse of Hakuto-R, Ispace, which floated its shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Growth Market earlier this month, was already preparing its next mission.
The spacecraft, named after the moon-dwelling white rabbit of Japanese legend, was launched on December 11 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The lander carried many lunar rovers, including a round, baseball-sized robot developed in collaboration by Japan’s space agency and Takara Tomy, the creator of the Transformer toys.
It also included the UAE’s chair-sized Rashid rover and an experimental imaging system from Canadensys Aerospace.
Ispace Plans For Settling The Moon
ispace, which has only 200 employees, says it “aims to extend the sphere of human life into space and create a sustainable world by providing high-frequency, low-cost transport services to the moon.”
The project, according to Hakamada, lays “the groundwork for unleashing the moon’s potential and transforming it into a robust and vibrant economic system.”
The company predicts the moon will have a population of 1,000 people by 2040, with an additional 10,000 visitors each year.
It intends to launch a second mission, tentatively slated for next year, that will include a lunar landing as well as the deployment of its own rover.