Japan’s First Private Lunar Mission Fails to Confirm Successful Landing

Hakuto-R shows off its lunar lander, which is scheduled to be part of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for a 2020 and 2021 missions, shown at the CES Unveiled at CES International, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Las Vegas.InternationalIndiaAfricaTOKYO (Sputnik) – Japanese private space company ispace said on Tuesday it could not confirm the landing of its pioneer lunar mission, as contact with the HAKUTO-R lander had been lost.”Our HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander was expected to land on the surface of the moon at 1:40 am JST on April 26, 2023 [16:40 GMT April 25]. At this time, our Mission Control Center in Tokyo has not been able to confirm the success of the lander,” the company tweeted. “Our engineers and mission operations specialists in our MCC are currently working to confirm the current status of the lander. Further information on the status of the lander will be announced as it becomes available.”An earlier livestream of the landing event captured the immediate reaction of individuals involved in the project, capturing many officials sporting somber faces.The company said on its social media accounts earlier in the day that the primary landing site for their HAKUTO-R Mission 1 module would be the Atlas Crater located in the northeastern quadrant of the moon.Officials chose the location because it “meets the technical specifications of the lander technology demonstration mission, the scientific exploration objectives for the [Emirates’ Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center] mission, as well as the mission requirements of our other customers.”The company will make a final announcement about the status of the mission on April 26.The HAKUTO-R Mission 1 module was intended to become the first part of the Hakuro-R moon exploration program initiated by the firm.Billionaire Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 rocket SpaceX launched the ispace lander toward the moon back in December 2022, and was the first private spacecraft among several missions scheduled to land on Earth’s satellite in 2023. The main task of the Japanese lander was to search for water at the landing site and test technology for future missions to the moon.The Japanese lander had delivered other vehicles to the moon on behalf of third-party customers, which included the Rashid four-wheel rover sent by the United Arab Emirates.The Rashid rover is half a meter long and weighs only 10 kilograms, and was supposed to operate for 14 Earth days. Rashid was carrying four Langmuir probes – devices that will measure the temperature and density of charged particles that cause dust movements on the lunar surface.The European Space Agency earlier indicated that the rover was “equipped with one high resolution camera on its front mast and another mounted on its rear, as well as a microscopic camera and thermal imaging camera.”

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