May 2, 2023

ISpace Loses Contact With Lunar Lander During Historic Moon Landing Attempt

Posted by in category: space travel

iSpace, a private space company based in Japan, lost contact with its Hakuto-R spacecraft as it attempted to become the first private mission to land on the moon this morning. “We have to assume that we could not complete the landing on the lunar surface,” iSpace CEO and founder Takeshi Hakamada said during a livestream. “Our engineers will continue to investigate the situation, and we will update you with further information when we finish the investigation.”

Hakuto-R launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last December. It took a long but efficient route, looping way out past the moon before using several orbital adjustments and the gravity of the Earth, moon, and sun to enter lunar orbit last month. On April 13, after a few more final adjustments, it locked into a circular orbit 100 kilometers above the lunar surface.

Early in its landing attempt, the spacecraft dipped behind the moon making communications impossible. The team reestablished contact as it rounded the lunar horizon and began its descent. During the livestream, iSpace showed a simulation of the landing. The ride to the surface began with a deceleration burn and a series of attitude adjustments, bending the spacecraft’s trajectory toward the surface and flipping its orientation.

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