SpaceX Postpones Japanese Lunar Lander Launch Again – Digital Journal

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One of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, which the European space will use to launch two missions – Copyright AFP Richard A. Brooks

SpaceX on Wednesday postponed the launch of the world’s first private lander to the moon, a mission carried out by Japanese firm ispace.

A Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to lift off at 3:37 am (0837 GMT) Thursday from Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida, but SpaceX said additional checks on the vehicle caused a delay.

“After further launch vehicle inspections and data review, we are withdrawing from tomorrow’s launch of @ispace_inc’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1; a new target release date will be shared once confirmed,” the firm tweeted.

So far, only the United States, Russia, and China have managed to put a robot on the lunar surface.

The ispace mission is the first in a program called Hakuto-R.

The lander would land around April 2023 on the near side of the Moon, in the Atlas crater, according to a company statement.

The delay came after the launch had already been pushed back a day due to the need for additional pre-flight checks, SpaceX and ispace said on Wednesday.

Measuring just over 2 by 2.5 meters, the lander carries on board a 10-kilogram rover called the Rashid, built by the United Arab Emirates.

The oil-rich country is a newcomer to the space race, but it boasts recent successes, including sending a probe into Mars orbit last year. If successful, Rashid will be the Arab world’s first lunar mission.

“We have accomplished a lot in the six short years since we first began conceptualizing this project in 2016,” ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada said.

Hakuto was one of five finalists in the international Google Lunar XPrize competition, a challenge to land a rover on the Moon before the 2018 deadline, which ended without a winner. But some of the projects are still ongoing.

Another finalist, from the Israeli organization SpaceIL, failed in April 2019 to become the first privately funded mission to accomplish the feat, after crashing to the surface while trying to land.

ispace, which has just 200 employees, says it “aims to extend the sphere of human life into space and create a sustainable world by providing low-cost, high-frequency shuttle services to the moon.”

burs-aha/rma

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