This is the first completely private mission to the surface of the Moon as well as Japan's first attempt. Here are the first historical images.
The first Japanese lunar lander in history – Hakuto-R, sent its first image to Earth after the start of the mission 3 days ago. The final goal of the program is to deliver the first Arab lunar rover and a Japanese microrobot to the Moon. ispace was founded in 2013 by members of the Japanese team Hakuto after the end of the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. In 2019, the startup announced the launch of its Hakuto-R lunar program, which plans to commercially deliver payloads to the lunar surface using a lander of its own design.
Overview of the Japanese Lunar Lander – Hakuto-R
The Hakuto-R lander is capable of delivering a payload of 30 kilograms to the lunar surface. It has a height of 2.3 meters and a width of 2.6 meters. Its mass without fuel is about 340 kilograms. The module is equipped with a color camera, four legs, and two propulsion systems. Solar panels are installed on the side surfaces of the module.
On December 11, 2022, the Hakuto-R Mission was launched on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle from the SLC-40 pad at Cape Canaveral. This happened after a number of launch postponements associated with additional checks of the rocket. The purpose of the first flight of the module will be to demonstrate the possibility of its soft landing on the moon. This is the first completely private mission to the surface of the Moon and the first attempt by Japan to become one of the countries that have reached the surface of Earth’s satellite.
The payload for the Hakuto-R was the four-wheeled Rashid rover, the United Arab Emirates’ first lunar rover. The scientific equipment of the lunar rover includes cameras, a thermal imager, a microscope, and a multi-needle Langmuir probe, it should work for one lunar day. The module will take it to the Atlas crater on the visible side of the moon.
Along with Hakuto-R, NASA’s Lunar Flashlight 6U CubeSat satellite also went into space. The spacecraft will use lasers and an infrared spectrometer to look for water ice outcrops in shadowed craters at the Moon’s south pole while in polar orbit. Initially, the CubeSat was supposed to fly with the Orion spacecraft as part of the Artemis-1 flight but did not have time to get on it.
Here are the first images from the Hakuto-R mission
Shortly after the launch, the Hakuto-R lunar lander successfully entered a low-fuel trajectory to the Moon, but the flight would take 3 months. The module maintains a stable orientation and its solar arrays are active. In addition, it transmitted the first image to Earth, obtained 19 hours after separation from the launch vehicle – a crescent of the Earth. Below is a sign with the names of the project sponsors. The Canadian panoramic camera system also received its first picture.
The Hakuto-R Mission 2 is expected to launch in 2024, which will also include a lunar rover developed by ispace. In addition, the American office of the company participates in the CLPS program for NASA with the Draper Laboratory. The plan is to deliver a number of payloads to the surface of the Moon in 2025.