The spacecraft of a Japanese corporation lost communication just before arrival on the moon on Wednesday, and flight controllers were left scrambling to determine what had occurred.
The Tokyo corporation ispace now confirmed what everyone had guessed for than six hours after communication broke off, saying there was “a high probability” that the lander had collided with the moon.
It was a sad setback for ispace, which had been on the edge of accomplishing what just three countries have: successfully land a spacecraft on the moon after a four and a half month mission.
It was a disappointing setback for ispace, which after a four-and-a-half-month mission had been on the verge of doing what only three countries have done: successfully land a spacecraft on the moon.
Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace, held out hope even after contact was lost as the lander descended the final 33 feet (10 meters).
Flight controllers peered at their screens in Tokyo as minutes went by with only silence from the moon.
Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories
By signing up, you agree to the terms
A grim-faced team surrounded Hakamada as he announced that the landing likely failed.
In this image from video provided by ispace, flight controllers in Tokyo wait for a signal from the company’s Hakuto spacecraft after a landing attempt on the surface of the moon, early Wednesday, April 26, 2023. Inset image at bottom left shows Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of the company, center. (ispace via AP)
Official word finally came in a statement: “It has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the moon’s surface.”
If all had gone well, ispace would have been the first private business to pull off a lunar landing. Hakamada vowed to try again, saying a second moonshot is already in the works for next year.
Only three governments have successfully touched down on the moon: Russia, the United States and China. An Israeli nonprofit tried to land on the moon in 2019, but its spacecraft was destroyed on impact.