Japanese space startup ispace is set to be the first to land a privately-led craft on the moon at the end of April, after having travelled to the furthest point from Earth into deep space, the company said today.
The Hakuto-R Mission 1 (M1) lunar lander, launched on December 11, 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, has travelled about 1.376 million kilometres into deep space.
The mission is meant to demonstrate the technology involved and validate the lander’s design, as well as ispace’s business model to provide reliable lunar transportation and data services, in expectation of human colonisation on the moon in about 20 years.
When it lands on the moon in April, ispace’s M1 will be the first privately-led lander to reach the moon. Previously, only the United States and Chinese governments have succeeded in landing spacecrafts on the moon.
The Japanese lunar lander is expected to deploy a two-wheeled, baseball-sized rover from Japan’s JAXA space agency and a four-wheeled Rashid rover made by the United Arab Emirates, reported Reuters.
On its website, ispace has been offering regular updates on its lander as it speeds towards the moon.
Though it had faced issues with its sensors, communications and thermal condition earlier, the company has apparently managed to rectify them remotely and the spacecraft is well on its way to its lunar destination.