- Japanese company ispace's first lunar landing attempt falls short
- Communication lost with spacecraft during crucial final moments
- Despite setback, ispace remains optimistic and focused on future lunar missions
So, here's the scoop: ispace, a super cool Japanese lunar exploration company, tried to land its first cargo mission on the moon this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned, and they lost communication with the spacecraft. CEO Takeshi Hakamada let everyone know they couldn't confirm a successful landing. But hey, no worries! They're still proud of what they achieved during Mission 1, and they're not giving up on their lunar dreams anytime soon.
The ambitious Mission 1 lunar lander was supposed to gently land around 12:40 p.m. ET in the Atlas Crater, which is hangin' out in the northeastern sector of the moon. The uncrewed mission was carrying some sweet scientific research and other payloads—no humans on board, though. If everything had gone smoothly, ispace would've been the first private company to pull off this epic feat. But alas, they lost communication with the lander right at the tail end of the landing attempt and couldn't reconnect.
Fun fact: ispace started out as a team competing for the Google Lunar Xprize under the name Hakuto—named after a mythological Japanese white rabbit. When the Xprize competition got canceled, they pivoted, expanded their goals, and now they're working on building an "economically viable ecosystem" around the moon. Not too shabby, huh? They've been growing steadily, with over 200 employees worldwide and $237 million in funding from a bunch of investors.
The Mission 1 lander was packed with small rovers and payloads from government agencies and companies from the U.S., Canada, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates. They had 10 milestones planned for the mission and managed to complete eight of them before Tuesday's landing attempt. The last two milestones were a successful soft-landing and establishing stable communication and power supply after the landing.
Even though this mission didn't go as planned, ispace still has its sights set on the moon. Last year, they scored a $73 million NASA contract as part of a team led by Massachusetts-based Draper. They'll be flying cargo to the moon's surface in 2025 under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. So stay tuned, lunar enthusiasts—this ain't the last we'll be hearing from ispace!
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