What would have been the first private moon landing ended in failure after Japanese startup ispace lost contact with its lunar lander, as previously reported by The Washington Post. As the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander approached the surface of the Moon, engineers found that they were no longer able to communicate with the spacecraft.
“Currently, we have not confirmed communications from the lander,” said ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada. during a mission livestream. “So we have to assume that we couldn’t complete the landing.”
Last December, ispace launched its Hakuto-R lander from Cape Canaveral, Florida atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The lander embarked on a three-month journey to reach lunar orbit before it is due to touch down on the lunar surface on Tuesday. Things seemed to be going according to plan until engineers received no response from the spacecraft after its scheduled landing at 12:40 p.m. ET.
“Our engineers and mission operations specialists in our MCC [mission control center] are currently working to confirm the current status of the lander,” ispace said following the livestream. “Further information on the condition of the lander will be announced as it becomes available.”