Attempt at first private landing on moon fails



A Japanese startup attempting the first private landing on the Moon said on Wednesday it had lost communication with its spacecraft and assumed the lunar mission had failed.

Ispace said that it could not establish communi-cation with the unmanned Hakuto-R lunar lander after its expected landing time, a frustrating end to a mission that began with a launch from the US over four months ago.

“We have not confirmed communication with the lander,” a company official told reporters about 25 minutes after the expected landing. “We have to assume that we could not complete the landing on the lunar surface,” the official said.

Officials said they would continue to try and establish contact with the spacecraft, which was carrying payloads from several countries, including a lunar rover from the United Arab Emirates.

Ispace founder and CEO Takeshi Hakamada said after the apparent failed landing that they had ac-quired data from the spacecraft all the way up to the planned landing and would be examining that for signs of what happened.

The lander, standing just over two metres tall and weighing 340 kilograms, has been in lunar orbit since last month. Its descent and landing was fully automated and it was supposed to reestablish com-munication as soon as it touched down.

So far only the United States, Russia and China have managed to put a spacecraft on the lunar sur-face, all through government-sponsored programmes.

In April 2019, Israeli organisation SpaceIL watched their lander crash into the moon’s surface. India also attempted to land a spacecraft on the moon in 2016, but it crashed.

Two US companies, Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, are scheduled to attempt moon landings later this year.

“We congratulate the ispace inc team on ac-complishing a significant number of milestones on their way to today’s landing attempt,” Astrobotic said in a tweet.—AFP