A commercial lunar lander is presumed lost after a historic moon landing attempt

(CNN) A Japanese lunar lander carrying a rover developed in the United Arab Emirates attempted to find its footing on the moon’s surface on Tuesday – marking the world’s first lunar landing for a commercially developed spacecraft. But air traffic controllers on the ground were unable to immediately make contact, prompting the agency to speculate that the spacecraft was lost.

lander, Built by a Japanese company called iSpace. was initiated On December 11, aboard a SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the spacecraft began a three-month trek to enter the lunar orbit 239,000 miles (383,000 kilometers) from Earth. In total, the trip took the lander about 870,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) into space.

Touchdown was expected to occur at 12:40 pm ET on Tuesday, which is 1:40 am Japan time on Wednesday.

After the expected communications blackout, minutes passed as the mission control team worked to regain contact with the vehicle. About 20 minutes after the scheduled landing time, iSpace CEO Takeshi Hakamada gave an update.

“We cannot confirm a successful landing,” he said. “We must assume that we are unable to complete the landing on the lunar surface. Our engineers are continuing to investigate the situation.”

He said his team was able to collect data from the vehicle until the landing attempt, a “great achievement” that could help inform future space missions.

The lunar lander, called Hakuto-R, carried the Rashid rover – the first Arab-built lunar rover to be built by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai.

In history, only three countries have carried out the death penalty Moon landings controlled by – USA, former Soviet Union and China. America is the only country to land a man on the moon.

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Japan’s iSpace took a different approach from previous lunar missions, attempting to land its spacecraft on the moon as a non-profit business and not under the banner of a nation.

The company shared the work updates on its Twitter handle account, The latest photo of Earth peeking out from behind the Moon was captured by the spacecraft during its journey into lunar orbit.

The Lunar Exploration Agency was looking for accidents. “Recognizing the possibility of an anomaly during the mission, the results will be weighed and evaluated and incorporated into future missions already in development between now and 2025,” the agency noted on Dec. 11. Mail.

If successful, the 22-pound (10-kilogram) Rashid rover is expected to emerge from the lunar lander and spend 14-day lunar days exploring the Atlas crater in the moon’s northeast. European Space AgencyIt helped design the rover’s wheels.

“The Rashid rover is equipped with a high-resolution camera on its front mast and another on its back, as well as a microscopic camera and a thermal imaging camera,” ESA said. “It carries a ‘Langmuir probe’ to sample the plasma environment just above the lunar surface.”

Other lunar lander attempts

Japan’s IceSpace is one of several companies competing in the Google Lunar XPrize, which offers a $20 million reward to the company that puts a robotic rover on the moon, travels two thousand feet, and sends data back to Earth.

Competition from Google dropped out in 2018 – but IceSpace was among the companies that chose to continue the mission.

Israel-based SpaceIL was the first XPrize contender to attempt a lunar landing after the project ended. Its Beresheet spacecraft crumbled 2019 after the ground teams lost contact with the lander approached surface.

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In the same year, Indian Space and Research Institute Lost contact With the lunar lander just before landing on the moon. There were communications with the spacecraft Not received againAnd images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter later revealed the crash site and the mission’s final resting place.

A mission to recover lunar soil samples on behalf of NASA’s Artemis program, which intends to use commercial lunar landers to explore the lunar surface, is part of Ispace’s future plans.

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