The reports said that the Japanese startup ispace had lost contact with their lunar lander. Engineers found they could no longer communicate with the Hakuto-R Mission 1 spacecraft as it approached the Moon’s surface.
Takeshi Hakamada, CEO of ispace, said that “currently we haven’t confirmed communications from lander” during a livestream. “So, we must assume that we cannot complete the landing.”
Ispace launched the Hakuto R lander in December last year from Cape Canaveral (Florida) atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The lander was expected to land on the Moon’s surface on Tuesday after a three-month journey. The lander appeared to be performing as expected until engineers did not receive any response from the spacecraft following its 12:40PM ET landing.
Ispace announced after the livestream that “our engineers and mission operation specialists in our MCC (mission control center) are currently working on confirming the current status” of the lander. As soon as more information is available, we will announce it.
Hakuto-R was equipped with two lunar rovers, a four-wheeled rover from the United Arab Emirates as well as an Star Wars-inspired mini rover built by Sony and Japanese toy manufacturer Tomy. The Hiten orbited the Moon in 1990 to collect data on cosmic dust. With the launch of Smart Lander to Investigate Moon, Japan will make another attempt to land a spacecraft intact on the Moon.
A glut of sales orders was placed on Wednesday due to disappointment. The stock was untraded for the entire day and ended the day down by 20% at a forced close price determined by the bourse, which reflects the balance between buy and sell orders.
Hirokazu Mattsuno, Japan’s top spokesperson for the government, said that while the country was disappointed by the failure of the mission, it wanted ispace “to keep trying” because its efforts are significant for the development of an domestic space industry.
Japan has suffered some recent setbacks in its goal to send Japanese astronauts on the moon by late 2020s. Last month, the national space agency had to destroy a new medium-lift rocket H3 after its second stage engine failed to ignite. The solid-fuel Epsilon launcher also failed in October.