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iSpace On Track For First Lunar Landing, Preparing For Next Missions

Japanese lunar lander company ispace confirms its first mission is on track to attempt a lunar landing in two months as work continues on next two missions.

  • More details coming soon...
Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Tue Feb 28 2023Written by Zac Aubert

Japanese lunar lander company ispace confirms its first mission is on track to attempt a lunar landing in two months as work continues on next two missions.

Mission 1

On December 11, the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 spacecraft was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket by the Japanese company. The spacecraft was placed on a low-energy trajectory, which allowed it to travel almost 1.4 million kilometers from Earth by January 20 before returning. As of now, it is approximately 900,000 kilometers away from Earth.

“Our first flight to the moon is going very well” - Ryo Ujiie, ispace Chief Technology Officer

“We have been operating our lander as well as expected so far, without any critical issues...It does not mean that there have been no challenges” Takeshi Hakamada, ispace Founder & Chief Executive

The spacecraft has encountered several minor issues that the controllers have successfully resolved. These issues include higher than expected spacecraft temperatures, but still within acceptable ranges, and an unexpected communication instability shortly after deployment. Although one onboard computer has rebooted multiple times, redundant systems have prevented any adverse impact on spacecraft operations.

Ujiie expressed satisfaction with how the team has managed the spacecraft, even under pressure, and noted that they have gained valuable experience and insights into themselves and their lander. However, he did not disclose specific dates for the Mission 1 lander's lunar orbital insertion maneuver in late March or landing by the end of April.

Mission 2

Mission 2 is part of ispace's HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program and aims to further validate the lander's design and technology while testing ispace's resource exploration activity. T

he mission will carry commercial payloads and ispace's own micro rover to collect lunar data that will be used to develop tools and applications for future mission planning and lunar surface development. The micro rover will also have a collection device to capture lunar regolith as part of ispace's second lunar regolith contract with NASA.

The data collected from Mission 1 and publicly available data from government space agencies will be used to develop a future database platform.

Mission 3

ispace is currently conducting the remaining development and qualifications for the Series 2 lander.

To facilitate communication on the far side of the Moon, Mission 3 will involve the deployment of two communication relay satellites that have been designed to stay in lunar orbit for multiple years. Propulsion testing for the Series 2 lander has already commenced, and more details are expected to be announced soon.

Although the Series 2 lander builds upon the lessons learned from the Series 1 lander, it is an advanced platform that represents ispace's next generation of landers. It has a greater payload capacity, improved capabilities, and a modular design that can accommodate orbital, landed, or rover payloads.