On Tuesday, Japanese firm ispace Inc. announced the failure of its attempt to achieve the first private moon landing after losing touch with its Hakuto-R Mission 1 (M1) lander, determining it had most likely fallen on the lunar surface.

Final data pings in the seconds before the scheduled impact showed the lander’s speed rapidly increasing, prompting engineers at mission control in Tokyo to conclude that a successful landing was “not achievable,” according to ispace.

“We lost communication, so we must assume that we will not be able to complete the landing on the lunar surface,” creator and CEO Takeshi Hakamada stated on a business live stream shortly after communication from the spacecraft was lost.

Success would have been a welcome break from Japan’s recent disappointments in space technology, where it hopes to develop a domestic industry and send Japanese humans to the moon by the late 2020s.

A lunar landing, on the other hand, would be an ambitious feat for a commercial company. Only the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China have successfully soft-landed spacecraft on the moon, with recent attempts by India and a private Israeli business failing.

The Japanese company “determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing.”

ispace stated to the Tokyo Stock Exchange that it does not expect an immediate impact on its earnings outlook. The company sends payloads to the moon, such as rovers, and sells related data. It does not anticipate making a profit until roughly 2025.

The M1 lander appeared set to land autonomously at about 12:40 p.m. Eastern time (1640 GMT Tuesday), four months after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX rocket. An animation based on live telemetry data showed it coming as close as 90 meters (295 feet) from the lunar surface.

Mission control had lost contact with the lander by the planned touchdown time, and engineers were nervous over the live broadcast as they awaited signal confirmation of its fate, which never arrived.

“Our engineers will continue to investigate the situation,” said Hakamada at the time. “At the moment, all I can say is that we are very proud of the fact that we have already accomplished a lot during this Mission 1.”

The lander accomplished eight of ten mission objectives in space, providing crucial data for the next landing attempt in 2024, according to Hakamada

The 2.3-meter-tall M1 began its landing phase about an hour before the planned landing, progressively tightening its orbit around the moon from 100 km (62 miles) above the surface to about 25 km, traveling at approximately 6,000 km/h (3,700 mph).
Slowing the lander to the correct speed against the moon’s gravitational pull is like squeezing the brakes of a bicycle just at the edge of a ski-jumping slope, said Chief Technology Officer Ryo Ujiie on Monday.

The craft was heading for a landing location on the moon’s northern hemisphere’s Mare Frigoris, where it would have deployed a two-wheeled, baseball-sized rover constructed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tomy Co. Ltd., and Sony Group Corp. It also intended to deploy Rashid, a four-wheeled rover from the United Arab Emirates.

The lander also carried an experimental solid-state battery made by Niterra Co. Ltd., as well as other instruments to test their performance on the moon.




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