Flight controllers at the start-up iSpace lost contact with the spacecraft minutes before the scheduled touchdown.
A Japanese company lost contact with its spacecraft moments before it touched down on the moon, and admitted the mission was a failure.
Start-up iSpace, aiming to become the first private company to land a craft on the moon, said the unmanned Hakuto-R Mission 1 failed to make contact with the lander 25 minutes after it was scheduled to touch down. Moon’s surface.
“It has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander will eventually make a hard landing,” Ispace said in a statement, adding that its engineers are working to understand why the landing failed.
The M1 lander appeared to touch down at 12:40 pm Eastern Time (16:40 GMT Tuesday) after coming within 90m (295 feet) of the lunar surface, live animation of the lander’s telemetry showed.
Communications ceased as the lander traveled the final 10 m (33 ft), traveling at about 25 km/h (16 mph). Flight controllers stared at their screens in Tokyo as minutes passed without a word from the lander.
The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, on a SpaceX rocket in December and completed several missions leading up to its landing attempt.
“By gaining a large amount of data and experience, we believe we have fully accomplished the importance of this mission,” said ispace CEO and founder Takeshi Hakamada, who acknowledged the failure to land.
“Feeding this knowledge and learning back into Mission 2 and beyond is critical,” he added.
Only three governments have successfully touched the moon: Russia, the United States, and China.
India also tried to land a spacecraft on the moon in 2016, but it failed, and an Israeli nonprofit tried in 2019, but its spacecraft was destroyed on impact.
Two American companies, Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, are scheduled to attempt to land on the moon later this year.
“We congratulate the iSpace Inc. team for accomplishing a significant number of milestones on today’s landing attempt,” Astrobotic said in a tweet.
“We hope everyone will recognize – today is not a day to shy away from pursuing the lunar frontier, but an opportunity to learn from adversity and move forward.”
The 2.3 m (7-ft) Japanese lander is designed to spin a mini lunar rover for the United Arab Emirates and a toy-like robot from Japan in lunar dust. The ship also had goods from private customers.
Hakuto, named in Japan for the White Rabbit, targeted the Atlas crater in the moon’s near northeast region, 87 km (54 mi) across and more than 2 km (1 mi) deep.
Hakuto went on a long, long orbit to the moon following its December lift-off, beaming photos of Earth along the way.
With just 200 employees, ispace says it aims to “expand the sphere of human life in space and create a sustainable world by providing high-frequency, low-cost transportation services to the moon.”
With 10,000 people visiting each year, iSpace hopes the moon will support a population of 1,000 by 2040.
A second mission is planned for next year, which will include both landing on the moon and deploying its own rover.