Japan’s ispace concedes failure in bid to make first commercial moon landing
(Alles Europa News English ) – Roughly an hour before planned touchdown, the 2.3 metre-tall M1 began its landing phase, gradually tightening its orbit around the moon from 100 km (62 miles) above the surface to roughly 25 km, traveling at nearly 6,000 km/hour (3,700 mph).
At such velocity, slowing the lander to the correct speed against the moon’s gravitational pull is like squeezing the brakes of a bicycle right at the edge of a ski-jumping slope, Chief Technology Officer Ryo Ujiie told reporters on Monday.
The craft was aiming for a landing site at the edge of Mare Frigoris in the moon’s northern hemisphere where it would have deployed a two-wheeled, baseball-sized rover developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tomy Co Ltd and Sony Group Corp.
It also planned to deploy a four-wheeled rover dubbed Rashid from the United Arab Emirates.
The lander was also carrying an experimental solid-state battery made by Niterra Co. Ltd among other devices to gauge their performance on the moon.
Japanese startup ispace Inc said its attempt to make the first moon landing had failed on Tuesday after losing contact with its Hakuto-R Mission 1 (M1) lander, concluding it had most likely crashed on the lunar surface.
Final pings of data in the moments before the planned touchdown showed the lander’s speed rapidly increasing, leading engineers at mission control in Tokyo to determine a successful landing was “not achievable”, ispace said in a statement.
“We lost communication, so we have to assume that we could not complete the landing on the lunar surface,” founder and Chief Executive Takeshi Hakamada said on a company live stream shortly after communication from the spacecraft ceased.