Historic! SpaceX Launches Japanese Startup Ispace’s Lunar Lander to Moon

A Japanese lunar lander carrying two rovers and other payload lifted off via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Sunday, in a bid to create history.

| Updated on: Dec 12 2022, 17:09 IST
NASA Voyager 1 completes 45 years in space! And still solving mysteries
NASA Voyager 1
1/6 Voyager 1, the second of a twin spacecraft, was lifted off on September 5, 1977. For the journey, the Voyagers planned to use Jupiter’s gravity to ship them on to explore Saturn and its large moon Titan. (NASA)
2/6 On August 20, 1977, Voyager 2 was launched into space. NASA informed that each Voyager carried a suite of 11 instruments to study the planets during each encounter and to learn more about interplanetary space in the outer reaches of the solar system. (NASA)
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3/6 Two weeks after the launch of Voyager 1, it turned its camera back toward its home planet and took the first single-frame image of the Earth-Moon system. Also, the spacecraft successfully traversed the asteroid belt between December 10, 1977, and September 8, 1978. The asteroid belt is the area where most of the asteroid lies. (NASA)
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4/6 Voyager 1 conducted its observations of Jupiter between January 6 and April 13, 1979, making its closest approach of 216837 miles from the planet’s center on March 5. During this observation, the spacecraft shared 19000 images of the giant which even confirmed the presence of a thin ring encircling it. (NASA)
Voyager 1 NASA
5/6 Not just Jupiter, Voyager 1 began its observations of Saturn in 1980 and concluded its studies on December 14. During the encounter, the spacecraft shared 16000 images, including Saturn, its rings, and many other satellites. (NASA)
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6/6 Moreover, Voyager 1 became the most distant human-made object. It also shared a mosaic of 60 images, which captured six planets of the solar system, including a pale blue dot called Earth from a distance of more than 3.7 billion miles. (NASA)
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The launch of Tokyo-based ispace Inc.’s Hakuto-R lander from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida followed two postponements. (AP)

A Japanese lunar lander carrying two rovers and other payload lifted off via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Sunday, in a bid to become the first commercial spacecraft to land on the moon.

The launch of Tokyo-based ispace Inc.'s Hakuto-R lander from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida followed two postponements. Originally scheduled for late November, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. had stood down twice for additional pre-flight rocket checks.

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander — Japan's first-ever lunar lander to launch — will take a circuitous path to the moon and is expected to touch down inside the Atlas crater around the end of April. It carries two rovers — one from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Rashid rover from the United Arab Emirates — as well as an experimental solid-state battery from NGK Spark Plug Co., a music disc containing the song SORATO played by Japanese rock band Sakanaction and other cargo.

The escalating US-China space rivalry and Elon Musk's ambitious Mars program have spurred startups around the world to chase new contracts for tapping resources on the lunar surface and further out in space.

Like Musk's goal to build a colony on Mars, ispace wants to build a human settlement of about 1,000 people on the moon by 2040, and the company plans to ferry equipment to the moon to make it a habitable commercial center.

Startup Plans Moon Landing With Goal to Become Space FedEx

Ispace's success would bolster Japan's own space program. JAXA had contracted Mitsubishi Electric Corp. to build the country's first lunar lander for a possible 2019 launch, but that program has been mired in delays. Last year, Japan's Lunar Industry Vision Council recommended more cooperation between state and private sectors to maintain competitiveness in the budding space economy.

Ispace's lander is part of a $73 million NASA contract won by a team led by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Draper to provide end-to-end delivery services under the US Artemis moon program. The same rocket also launched the NASA probe Lunar Flashlight on a mission to look for ice in craters on the moon.

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First Published Date: 12 Dec, 17:09 IST