Japan and ispace’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander appears to have met a startling end, according to new photos captured by NASA’s Lunar Orbiter. Based on the new images, astronomers say they have finally spotted the Japanese moon lander’s crash site, finally bringing closure to the failed touchdown, which first made headlines in late April.
The HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander was expected to touchdown on the surface of the Moon on April 26, around 1:40 a.m. JST. The communication was interrupted between the Mission Control Center and the Lander. Although it was supposed to be resumed after landing, there was no sign. This would have made the mission the first to send a commercial lander on the moon’s surface.
We may have located the crash site of the Japanese lunar lander, but ispace, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and both say that the mission is still a great success. It has provided the agency and company with a lot of valuable data. Even executing the landing phase is a huge step towards getting a lander on the ground in good condition.
The exploration of the Moon is also accelerating. NASA is planning to send humans back to the Moon in its Artemis III Mission, and is using SpaceX’s Starship Landing System if it can get the system up and running by that time. NASA will also work with Blue Origin on a lunar landing system if SpaceX is unable to provide it.
ispace and JAXA launched the HAKUTO-R mission 1 Lunar Lander in December. After a few months of traveling to the Moon, it was expected to set down in April. Now that NASA’s Lunar Orbiter spotted the crash site of the Japanese moon landing, future missions may provide more information about what happened.
Either way, ispace and JAXA say they are already prepping future missions, which will take all the new data into account as they try to land a commercial lunar lander on the moon once again.
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