Why spacecraft carrying UAE's Rashid Rover crashed on Moon, Japan firm reveals

It would have been the world's first commercial soft-landing on the lunar surface; the mission was the Arab world's first attempt to reach the Moon

By Reuters

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AP file photo used for illustrative purposes
AP file photo used for illustrative purposes

Published: Fri 26 May 2023, 12:28 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 May 2023, 11:57 PM

Japanese startup ispace inc on Friday revealed the reason why its Hakuto-R moon-landing mission failed last month.

ispace's Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander was carrying the UAE's Rashid Rover for the Arab world's first mission to the Moon. The Tokyo-based firm lost connection with the mission lander after the spacecraft attempted what would have been the world's first commercial soft-landing on the moon's surface.

The company said the crash was caused by an altitude miscalculation that meant the spacecraft ran out of fuel.

Earlier this week, Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) shared Nasa images of the lunar site where the spacecraft is believed to have crashed.

The mission's failure was the latest setback in Japan's space programme. The national space agency in March had to destroy its new medium-lift H3 rocket and its solid-fuel Epsilon rocket failed after launch in October.

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

A second ispace mission is scheduled in 2024, with another M1 lander due to carry the company's own rover. From 2025, the company is set to work with U.S. space software developer Draper to bring NASA payloads to the moon, aiming to build a permanently staffed lunar colony by 2040.


"Through these two missions, it is very important for us to increase our knowledge as much as possible to achieve stable commercialisation in the future," ispace chief executive Takeshi Hakamada told reporters at the Japan National Press Club.

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

Nasa has relied on Elon Musk's SpaceX to carry many of its payloads into orbit, and last week the agency awarded a lunar lander contract to a team led by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.


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