Japan’s OMOTENASHI lunar lander fails to reach its target

Japan’s OMOTENASHI lunar lander fails to reach its target

Japan’s attempts to become the fourth country to reach the Moon have failed, according to a tweet shared this week. OMOTENASHI, which stands for Outstanding Moon exploration Technologies demonstrated by Nano Semi-Hard Impactor), was launched from the Artemis I Rocket and failed to reach its destination.

The lander was a CubeSat probe, designed to reach the Moon’s surface and make explorations. It was part of Artemis I’s launch last week. The ground team couldn’t communicate with OMOTENASHI after the rocket was removed from it. It was then impossible for the ground team to communicate with OMOTENASHI lander.

Japan’s lander was just one of three CubeSats attached to the Artemis I launch that were intended for the Moon. The others include ArgoMoon, an Italian-constructed spacecraft, and NASA’s own BioSentinel CubeSat-slash-biolab. These other two are still en route to the Moon. Unfortunately, OMOTENASHI was not the one that had been planned to make a controlled landing.

The hope was that the lander would provide more insight into the process of landing smaller spacecraft safely, something that will be vital for future space exploration, especially if NASA sends a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. Because they weren’t able to connect with the OMOTENASHI lander, though, the team was unable to complete its scheduled landing.

It’s disappointing to see Japan’s lander fall during its journey. However, it isn’t unheard of for spacecraft to lose communication or fail entirely when being sent on these longer-range missions. Spacecraft can experience difficulties traveling between Earth and the Moon, even though they are still quite close. OMOTENASHI was already unlikely to reach the Moon because of this.

Hopefully, we can learn more from the other two landers slated to arrive on the lunar surface, and hopefully, Japan will get another chance to send a lunar lander like the OMOTENASHI next time NASA’s Artemis missions liftoff.

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