What would have been the first private Moon landing has ended in failure after Japanese startup ispace lost contact with its lunar lander, as reported earlier by The Washington Post. As the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander inched closer to the Moon’s surface, engineers found that they were no longer able to communicate with the spacecraft.
“Currently, we have not confirmed communications from the lander,” ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada said during a livestream of the mission. “So we have to assume that we could not complete the landing.”
Last December, ispace launched its Hakuto-R lander from Cape Canaveral, Florida atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The lander embarked on a three-month-long journey to reach lunar orbit before it was supposed to touch down on the surface of the Moon on Tuesday. Things seemed to be going as planned until engineers received no response from the spacecraft after its expected 12:40PM ET touchdown.
“Our engineers and mission operations specialists in our MCC [mission control center] are currently working to confirm the current status of the lander,” ispace stated following the livestream. “Further information on the status of the lander will be announced as it becomes available.”