The Japanese company ispace fell short of its goal of becoming the first private entity to land on the moon Tuesday. (ispace via APTN)
The Japanese lunar lander likely crashed on the moon's surface on Tuesday, according to ispace, the company that launched the spacecraft.
The scientists lost communication with the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander after touchdown, although it was determined that the 7-foot-tall lander was in a vertical position as it approached the lunar surface.
Shortly after the scheduled landing time, no data was received indicating a touchdown, and ispace inc. engineers monitored the estimated remaining propellant reached at the lower threshold and shortly afterward the descent speed rapidly increased.
"Based on this, it has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the moon’s surface," ispace said in a statement.
JAPAN'S ISPACE LOSES CONTACT WITH LUNAR LANDER FOLLOWING HISTORIC LAUNCH
Takeshi Hakamada, CEO of Japanese firm ispace, bows after explaining that the communication of the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander developed by ispace has been cut off, in Tokyo on April 26, 2023. ((Photo by STR/JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images) / Getty Images)
In order to find the cause of the resulting crash, engineers are working on a detailed analysis of the telemetry data acquired until the end of landing sequence, and will clarify the details after completing the analysis.
While the Tokyo-based company determined that the success of this milestone – successfully landing on the moon and establishing communications – is "no longer achievable," it noted that the mission had already achieved success.
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A model of a lunar roving vehicle displayed at Ispace Inc.’s Hakuto-R Mission Control Center in Tokyo, Japan, on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)
"Although we do not expect to complete the lunar landing at this time, we believe that we have fully accomplished the significance of this mission, having acquired a great deal of data and experience by being able to execute the landing phase. What is important is to feed this knowledge and learning back to Mission 2 and beyond so that we can make the most of this experience," said ispace founder and CEO Takeshi Hakamada.
Ryo Ujiie, chief technology officer of Ispace Inc., wipes his tears during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, on April 26, 2023. (Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)
Ispace, which was established in 2010, said it would continue to make the most of the data acquired during the operation and the landing sequence, with the goal of dramatically improving the technological maturity of its upcoming missions.
It is planning a second mission next year and a third in 2025.
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The Hakuto lander had been on a months-long journey since its launch on board a SpaceX rocket in December 2022.
Only three governments have successfully landed on the moon: Russia, the United States and China.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.