The orbit of the moon has been successfully entered by ispace’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander. This brings a lunar landing attempt by the end of April closer. The lander reached the moon’s orbit on March 20 after a major engine fire that lasted several minutes. This marked the seventh of ten mission milestones. A definite landing date is anticipated to be announced soon by the firm for the spacecraft’s attempt to land in Atlas Crater. Atlas Crater is found on the edge of Mare Frigoris.
Rashid, a small rover built by the United Arab Emirates, is one of several customer payloads the mission is transporting. After the governments of the former Soviet Union, China, and the United States, ispace would become the first private enterprise to set foot on the moon. Also, it will be just the fourth organization overall with a successful landing.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deployed the first HAKUTO-R mission in December 2022. The mission traveled 1.4 million kilometers away from Earth before turning around to approach the moon. As part of the ten-milestone mission, the corporation had anticipated orbiting the moon in the second half of March. It all started with launch preparations. Ryo Ujiie, the company’s chief technology officer, said they had already resolved these minor difficulties. This included higher-than-anticipated spacecraft temperatures and a repeatedly rebooted computer.
Similarly to the spacecraft currently in lunar orbit, ispace is also developing a second lunar lander called Mission 2. It is planned to launch in 2024 with a “micro rover” that ispace has created in addition to a new set of customer payloads. Mission 3 will use a bigger lander created by the US division of ispace in collaboration with Draper. This will make it possible to fly payloads to the lunar farside. Draper obtained a NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services award in July.
The business is planning to go public as it gears up for what could be a historic lunar landing. On March 8, ispace stated that it would offer its shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Growth Market beginning April 12. On April 3, the business will release the share price for those securities. Via several private rounds, it has raised close to $200 million. If the company accomplishes its lunar mission, it may further increase public interest.
A successful landing by ispace’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1 would be a notable accomplishment in private space exploration. It will demonstrate the ability of commercial companies to explore the moon and beyond. It will be intriguing to observe how the company’s lunar initiatives influence the future of space exploration.