Failed moon landing caused by miscalculation of altitude, says Japanese startup By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A model of ispace’s HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program lander is pictured at its lunar landing site in Tokyo, Japan on April 26, 2023. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 2/3

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese startup ispace inc’s failed Hakuto-R moon landing mission last month was caused by an altitude calculation error that caused the spacecraft to run out of fuel, the company said on Friday.

Tokyo-based ispace lost contact with the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander after the spacecraft made the world’s first commercial soft landing on the lunar surface.

The disaster was the latest setback for Japan’s space program. The National Space Agency had to destroy its new medium-lift H3 rocket in March, and its Epsilon solid-fuel rocket failed after launching in October.

ispace stated that improvements would be made for its second and third missions.

“Through these two missions, it is very important for us to maximize our knowledge in order to achieve sustainable commercialization in the future,” ispace executive director Takeshi Hakamada told reporters at the Japan National Press Club.

While national space agencies have dominated space exploration in the past decades, numerous private players are competing in a new space race between the United States and its allies against an increasingly ambitious China.

NASA has relied on Elon Musk’s SpaceX to get many of its payloads into orbit, and last week the agency awarded a team led by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

A second space mission is scheduled for 2024, and another M1 lander is to carry the company’s own rover. Starting in 2025, the company will work with American space software developer Draper to deliver NASA payloads to the Moon, aiming to build a permanently staffed lunar colony by 2040.

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