A Japanese start-up loses contact with its lander shortly after landing

The Japanese start-up ispace, which was trying to become the first private company to successfully land on the Moon, lost contact with its lander when it was supposed to land, the company’s boss said on Wednesday.

“We lost communication, so we have to consider that we could not complete the landing on the surface of the Moon,” said Takeshi Hakamada, CEO and founder of ispace. “Our engineers will continue to analyze the situation,” he added, promising to give more information as soon as possible.

The Hakuto-R program lander, which had been in orbit some 100 kilometers above the Moon for a month, had begun its descent to the lunar surface about an hour earlier. A complex manoeuvre, carried out entirely automatically.

Several rovers on board

Everything seemed to be going as planned, but several tens of minutes of anxious waiting after the planned moment of landing, during which the company’s teams tried to re-establish communication with the lander, the boss ended up taking speaking on the company’s live video, announcing the bad news and assuring that ispace would continue its “efforts for future missions”.

Measuring 2 by 2.5 meters, the lander was launched in December from the US base at Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a SpaceX rocket. It was carrying several small lunar vehicles, including a miniature Japanese model developed by the Japanese space agency, in collaboration with toy manufacturer Takara Tomy.

source site