Moon landing – Japan’s ispace concedes failure

Japan's ispace concedes failure in bid to make first commercial moon landing

Success would have been a welcome change from recent setbacks Japan has faced in space technology, where it aims to build a domestic industry, including a goal of sending Japanese astronauts to the moon by the late 2020s.

But a lunar landing would be an ambitious feat for a private firm. Only the United States, the former Soviet Union and China have soft-landed spacecraft on the moon, with attempts in recent years by India and a private Israeli company ending in failure.

The Japanese firm “determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing.”

In disclosure to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, ispace said it did not expect an immediate impact on its earnings forecast. The startup delivers payloads such as rovers to the moon and sells related data. It does not expect to book any profit until around 2025.

Brakes on a ski slope

Four months after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX rocket, the M1 lander appeared set to autonomously touch down at about 12:40 p.m. Eastern time (1640 GMT Tuesday), with an animation based on live telemetry data showing it coming as close as 90 meters (295 feet) from the lunar surface.

By the expected touchdown time, mission control had lost contact with the lander and engineers appeared anxious over the live stream as they awaited signal confirmation of its fate which never came.

“Our engineers will continue to investigate the situation,” Hakamada said at the time.

“At this moment, what I can tell you is we are very proud of the fact that we have already achieved many things during this Mission 1.”

The lander completed eight out of 10 mission objectives in space that will provide valuable data for the next landing attempt in 2024, Hakamada said.

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