SpaceX will launch the first privately-led Japanese mission to land on the lunar surface. ispace, Inc. is a space exploration company headquartered in Japan that develops robotic landers. The company selected SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to launch its first cargo lunar lander Mission 1 (M1) as part of the HAKUTO-R program. M1 is set to lift off on Thursday, December 1st at 3:39 a.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Initially, the mission was scheduled to launch on November 30 but it was delayed to “allow for additional pre-flight checkouts,” said SpaceX, “Latest weather forecast is >90% favorable.” The company will broadcast the mission 15-minutes before liftoff, you can watch it Live in the video linked at the end of this story. UPDATE: "After further inspections of the launch vehicle and data review, we're standing down from tomorrow's [December 1] launch of ispace, Inc's HAKUTO-R Mission 1; a new target launch date will be shared once confirmed," announced SpaceX on November 30.
Standing down from launch of ispace's HAKUTO-R Mission 1 to allow for additional pre-flight checkouts; now targeting Thursday, December 1 at 3:37 a.m. ET for liftoff— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 30, 2022
The HAKUTO-R M1 lander will travel to the moon carrying other payloads, including a United States NASA CubeSat, a rover operated by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in the United Arab Emirates, and a robot owned by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Onboard the HAKUTO-R M1 is NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) Lunar Flashlight which is designed to orbit the Moon to search for water ice. The “Lunar Flashlight” is a CubeSat that will orbit around 15-kilometers over the Moon’s South Pole; the satellite is pictured below. ispace, inc. states that this mission is important because it will contribute to NASA’s Artemis Program and help ispace "further improve the maturity of ispace’s technology and business model."
Source: NASA/JPL Caltech
The other payload is the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre’s rover named “Rashid,” which is designed to drive around the lunar surface equipped with cameras. It will be United Arab Emirates first rover to land on the Moon. JAXA’s robot is also designed to cruise on the moon, however, it is super tiny, around the size of a baseball equipped with cameras and sensors to collect data (pictured below). These payloads will ride onboard the HAKUTO-R lander. The payloads were integrated atop the Falcon 9 rocket's fairing this past week. “We are pleased to have finished the first phase of the Mission 1 with the final preparations before launch completed,” said Takeshi Hakamada, Founder and CEO of ispace. “We have achieved so much in the six short years since we first began conceptualizing this project in 2016. To do this, we utilized a design and development model that balanced reliability and low costs by employing proven technologies and components from around the world. All efforts to acquire customers, raise funds, and build an organization to support this development have culminated in this achievement. I want to once again thank all of our employees and supporters for their efforts to make Mission 1 a reality.”
Source: United Arab Emirates Rashid
VIDEO: WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.