Japan’s Ispace Private Company Fails To Successfully Land On The Moon

Charles Oladimeji
On April 25th, 2023, Ispace, a Japanese company, embarked on a historic endeavor to become the first private enterprise to land on the moon. Regrettably, the mission did not achieve its intended outcome.

Japan’s Ispace Inc. has issued a statement acknowledging the failure of its pioneering attempt to achieve the first private moon landing. The unexpected acceleration of the Hakuto-R Mission 1 (M1) lander is believed to have caused it to crash on the lunar surface, resulting in a loss of all communication with the Mission Control Center.

Data provided by Ispace indicates that the lander’s altitude measurement system had inaccurately calculated the distance to the moon’s surface during its approach. The HAKUTO-R Mission Control Center in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, has confirmed that the lander was in a vertical position during its final approach to the lunar surface, just moments before the unfortunate crash landing.

Implications of the Mission Failure

Ispace engineers are currently conducting an in-depth analysis of the telemetry data obtained throughout the entire landing sequence. Once this analysis is complete and details are retrieved, the engineers can provide a clearer understanding of the crash. It has been determined that Success 9 of the Mission 1 Milestones is currently unattainable due to the loss of all communications.

However, the mission did achieve Success 1 through Success 8, and valuable data and know-how were acquired by the Mission Control Center from the beginning to nearly the end of the landing sequence. Notably, only three countries—the USA, Russia, and China—have successfully landed on the moon, with no private companies achieving this feat. India and a private company in Israel have attempted lunar landings in the past, but both ended in failure.

There was significant anticipation and excitement surrounding Ispace’s lunar mission, especially after the company’s recent listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which saw shares increase up to sevenfold. However, the failure of the lunar landing resulted in a flurry of sell orders, and the stock remained untraded throughout the day, ultimately closing down 20 percent at a forced closing price.

The Future of Ispace 

Image of The Moon in Space. Photo: Jose Gabriel Ortega Castro | Pexels

Ispace has a current workforce of 200 employees and is committed to creating a sustainable world through its vision of providing high-frequency, low-cost transportation services to the Moon. Prior to the mission launch, Ispace outlined 10 milestones, of which eight were completed before Tuesday. The ninth milestone represented a successful soft landing on the lunar surface, while the tenth milestone aimed at establishing stable communications with Earth and ensuring a steady power supply after landing.

Although not all the milestones were achieved, the mission was not a total failure, as valuable information was gathered that will contribute to future lunar landing missions. Takeshi Hakamada, the founder and CEO of Ispace, stated after the Mission 1 landing attempt, “We have an opportunity to improve in the second and third missions, which gives us an advantage in accelerating our development and ensuring higher maturity of the technology in the next mission.”

With the available data and lessons learned, the upcoming lunar landing mission scheduled for next year is expected to be successful, building upon the progress made and further advancing Ispace’s technological capabilities.

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