The unmanned Hakuto-R lander was due to land on the lunar surface on Tuesday as part of a “historic” mission – the first fully privately funded mission. That afternoon, the “loss of communication” with the lander was reported. Today, ispace said in a statement that the landing was likely “hard”, communications were not recovered and “Success 9” of Mission 1 was “unachievable”. Further trials have been announced and their dates given.
The Hakuto-R lander was scheduled to land on Tuesday, April 25, in the late afternoon of our time on the moon as part of a mission fully funded by the private Japanese company ispace. After the expected landing date, contact with him was lost, the mission team informed that day. It was not communicated at the time whether this meant the landing had failed. “Nothing is confirmed, but it doesn’t look good,” Chris Bergin of NASASpaceflight.com tweeted.
ispace statement on the Hakuto-R lander
On Wednesday morning, Polish time, ispace issued a statement. She did not directly confirm that the object crashed, but admitted that the landing was “hard”, and that the “Success 9” milestone – which was supposed to be landing and establishing contact – “is no longer achievable.” It added that there are plans to conduct further approaches, i.e. Mission 2 in 2024 and Mission 3 in 2025.
“Based on currently available data, the HAKUTO-R Mission Control Center in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, confirmed that the lander was in an upright position during its final approach to the lunar surface. Shortly after the scheduled landing time, no data was received indicating that a touchdown had occurred. ispace engineers monitored the estimated amount of fuel remaining. (…) Soon the rate of descent increased sharply. Then there was a loss of communication. Based on this, it was determined that there is a high probability that the lander finally made a hard landing on the lunar surface.”
“To find the root cause of this situation, ispace engineers are working on a detailed analysis of the telemetry data collected up to the end of the landing sequence and will clarify the details once the analysis is complete,” the statement added.
It stated that “Success 9 of Mission 1’s milestones – successful lunar landing and communication – are no longer achievable. Nevertheless, the mission has already gone from Success 1 to Success 8.”
“While we don’t expect the Moon landing to be complete this time, we believe we have fully achieved the objectives of this mission, gaining a lot of data and experience,” said Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace. “We will move forward,” he assured.
Hiroshi Yamakawa, president of the Japan Aerospace Research Agency (JAXA), admitted that “ispace became the first private company to attempt a lunar landing, but unfortunately the landing could not be accomplished.” Josef Aschbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), who is collaborating on the mission, emphasized that he is convinced that “Mission 1 Hakuto-R is just the beginning of many fascinating projects and activities.”
The lander was launched on March 21 via a Falcon 9 rocket belonging to Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.
Hakuto-R was supposed to land in the Atlas crater, which is located on the southeastern edge Mary Frigoris (Latin Sea of Cold). Mary Frigoris is the lunar sea located north of Mare Imbrium and northeast of Mare Serenitatis.
The landing was to start from an altitude of about 100 kilometers above the lunar surface. First, a braking manoeuvre, during which the lander would ignite its main engine, would begin. Hakuto-R would then adjust its orientation relative to the lunar surface and gradually reduce speed to make a soft landing. The whole process was supposed to take about an hour.
The lander captured the image of the rising of the Earth
One of the images uploaded by Hakuto-R captured a glorious Earthrise that occurred at the same time as a hybrid solar eclipse. The image shows the Moon’s shadow as it moves across the Earth’s surface over the South Pacific.
Rover on board
The lander houses the small rover Rashid of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) space agency, an artificial intelligence system from Canada’s Mission Control, and a multi-camera imaging system from Canada’s Canadensys Aerospace.
As a secondary charge, one belonging to was also launched NASA The Lunar Flashlight probe, which was to enter orbit around the Moon and search for ice on its surface using a reflectometer consisting of four lasers.
Only three countries have so far managed to put their landers on the moon: the United States, the Soviet Union and China.
The drive was built by a Pole
A Pole, Doctor Jakub Gramatyka from the Łukasiewicz Research Network, Institute of Aviation, worked on the construction of the lander’s drive.
space.com, Reuters, tvnmeteo.pl
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON