Japanese Spacecraft Goes Dark During Lunar Landing. Mission Control Fears Worst

Japan’s ispace company lost contact with its Hakuto-R lunar lander earlier this afternoon, as the spacecraft tried to land on the moon.

The landing was live-streamed on YouTube. According to information from the company, the procedure went as planned until the lander began its final descent.

That’s when mission control in Tokyo lost communication with it. As of this writing, contact has not been re-established.

It could signal a disastrous end for the Hakuto-R project’s first mission, which launched over four months ago. A key part of the company’s plan was to closely track the landing sequence, “verifying key landing abilities for future missions.”

Once the spacecraft safely touched down on the moon, mission control was to remain in “steady telecommunication” with it.

“At this moment, we are not able to confirm a successful landing on the lunar surface,” ispace founder Takeshi Hakamada announced this afternoon.

He added that the company’s engineers were investigating the lander’s status, but that communications faltered “at the very end of the landing,” and did not recover.

“We have to assume that we could not complete the landing on the lunar surface,” Hakamada concluded.

The mission was understandably vital for ispace, one of several newcomers in the current moon exploration boom.

Not only would it pave the way for future Hakuto-R missions (some connected to NASA’s Artemis project), but it would also deliver moon-based equipment for the government of the United Arab Emirates.

ispace promises an update once it concluded its investigation.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.