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ispace from Japan fails first moon landing

ispace from Japan fails first moon landing

The Washington Post reported earlier today that Japanese startup ispace lost contact with its lunar lander, endangering the first private Moon landing.

A few miles from the surface of the Moon, engineers noticed that Hakuto-R Mission 1 had stopped communicating with the lander.

“Currently, we have not confirmed communications from the lander. So we have to assume that we could not complete the landing,” ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada said during a live stream of the mission.

As part of the Hakuto-R lander mission, ispace launched the lander from Cape Canaveral, Florida on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket last December. A three-month journey later, it finally touched down on the Moon’s surface on Tuesday. It appeared that everything was going according to plan until engineers did not receive a response from the spacecraft after it touched down at 12:40 p.m. Eastern Time.

“Our engineers and mission operations specialists in our MCC [mission control center] are currently working to confirm the current status of the lander. Further information on the status of the lander will be announced as it becomes available,”  ispace stated following the live stream.

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Two lunar rovers were carried aboard the Hakuto-R: a four-wheeled one from the United Arab Emirates and a miniature Star Wars-esque rover manufactured by Sony and Tomy of Japan.

Although Japan’s own national space agencies have not attempted to land on the moon, their first mission took place in 1990, when the Hiten spacecraft collected data on cosmic dust around it.

A heavily-delayed first attempt at landing a spacecraft on the Moon intact will be made by the country later this year with the launch of the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon.

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