Moon landing attempt by private company ends in last minute failure

What just happened? To date, the governments of the United States, Russia and China are the only entities to have successfully landed objects on the Moon. A Tokyo company hoped to join this club and become the first private group to land on the moon this week, but the mission fell through at the last minute. However, the company does not intend to give up.

ispace japanese company contact lost with its lunar lander just minutes before it was supposed to touch down on the surface, likely indicating it crashed. A successful landing would have made the Tokyo-based company the first-ever private company to complete a moon landing.

The seven-foot lander named Hakuto (Japanese for White Rabbit) descended the last 33 feet onto the lunar surface when communications ceased. The mission crew waited a few minutes for a response but received none. CEO and founder Takeshi Hakamada later admitted that the spacecraft probably crashed.

The lander lifted off in December on a SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, before entering lunar orbit on March 21. It was supposed to make contact with the surface around 12:40 p.m. ET. CTO Ryo Ujie said the hardest part was slowing Hakuto down to the right speed relative to the Moon’s gravity.

The spacecraft carried a rover from the United Arab Emirates, a Japanese robot and other objects on board, which would have carried out experiments on the surface of the Moon. Although Hakuto hasn’t achieved all of his goals, his accomplishments on the journey will provide valuable data for the second spaceship that ispace is already building. Eventually, ispace wants to run a company to provide transportation to the Moon for other organizations.

NASA is currently laying the groundwork to return to the Moon this decade. Last year, his Orion spacecraft completed a successful lunar flyby on the Artemis I mission. Artemis II will send a crew around the Moon when it launches next year, and NASA plans to send a crew to the surface on the Artemis mission III 2025. The success of Artemis III would mark the first time people have walked on the lunar surface since the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

Governments and private companies have ambitious plans to increase the human presence on the Moon. China and the United States are planning nuclear-powered moon bases, Lockheed Martin and Nokia want establish wireless communication networks on the Moon, and a startup intends to send a backup data center.

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