Japanese lunar exploration company, ispace, recently attempted to land its first cargo mission on the moon. The company’s Mission 1 lunar lander was expected to softly touch down around 12:40 p.m. ET in the Atlas Crater, located in the northeastern sector of the moon. ispace’s uncrewed mission carried scientific research and other payloads, making it the first private entity to complete the feat. However, the company lost communication with the lander at the “very end” of the landing attempt, according to CEO Takeshi Hakamada. The company’s team is currently investigating the situation.
ispace’s Mission and Growth
Founded over a decade ago, ispace has grown steadily as it worked towards its first mission. The company has over 200 employees around the world, including about 50 at its U.S. subsidiary in Denver. Additionally, ispace has raised $237 million to date from a variety of investors, including the Development Bank of Japan, Suzuki Motor, Japan Airlines, and Airbus Ventures. Before the launch, ispace outlined 10 milestones for the mission, with the ninth representing a successful soft-landing on the surface and the 10th representing the establishment of stable communications with the Earth after the landing.
Future of ispace’s Lunar Quest
ispace hoped to make this the first of multiple missions to the moon. The company won a $73 million NASA contract last year to fly cargo to the moon’s surface in 2025 under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Despite the unsuccessful lunar landing attempt, Hakamada remains optimistic about the company’s future, stating, “We will keep going — never quit the lunar quest.” ispace is committed to creating “an economically viable ecosystem” around the moon, as stated by Hakamada in a recent interview.
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