Sunday, May 28, 2023

No trace of the Japanese space probe that was supposed to land on the Moon: this is all that is known

The space probe of the Japanese mission Hakuto-R, which was to have landed on the surface of the Moon on Tuesday, has lost all signals with Earth. At the moment, the private ship has not communicated with the control center that follows its trajectory, with which it is feared that it has been lost without a trace in the depths of the universe.

From the company that has undertaken this space mission, Ispace, they have explained that the probe should have landed on the lunar surface at 16:41 GMT, as also indicated by the countdown that included the live broadcast that they have offered.

It was expected that the ship’s signal would take a few minutes to be received at the Ispace facilities. However, the minutes have begun to pass by dozens without any kind of news regarding his destination or possible arrival coming in, while the tension in the room did not stop growing.

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Those responsible for Hakuto-R, the first privately developed lunar mission, reported some 20 minutes after the scheduled arrival time that they had had communication with the spacecraft until just before landing, when it was finally lost. “We cannot finalize the landing,” a spokesman announced.

The lunar probe, developed by the company itself, was launched aboard a Space X Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral (Florida, USA) last December, and was heading to the Earth’s satellite within its planned route, according to the latest information provided by Ispace via Twitter. The Ispace aircraft, about 2.3 meters high and 2.6 meters long, carries a small exploration robot developed by JAXA and the Japanese company Tomy, as well as a lunar rover designed by the United Arab Emirates.

The main objective of the first Hakuto-R mission is to test the descent technologies and maneuverability of its devices, and it will be considered successful if communications and operability of the devices are maintained after landing, the company explained. Founded in 2010, Ispace defines itself as a “global” company whose vision is to “expand the planet” and “expand the future” through concrete actions such as offering low-cost, high-frequency transport services between the Earth and the Moon. The firm has offices in Japan, Luxembourg and the United States, and has joint projects with NASA and the European Space Agency.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) sent a similar mission in collaboration with NASA last November, although communication with it was lost a day after its launch. Now, it is feared that the Hakuto-R will end up meeting a similar fate.

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