Ispace, a Japanese space exploration company, is set to make history by landing their Hakuto-R lander on the moon. After a five-month journey, the lander is scheduled to reach the lunar surface today (04/25/2023) at 12:40 PM EST. The success of this mission, named Mission 1, would make Ispace the first private company to land on the moon, as well as the first spacecraft from Japan to do so. China, the United States, and the USSR are the only other nations to have achieved this feat.
Mission 1 was launched in December 2022, and since then, the lander has undergone various maneuvers to maintain its path to the moon. At its farthest point, Hakuto-R traveled 1.4 million kilometers from Earth, the farthest distance ever traveled by a privately funded, commercially operated spacecraft.
While this mission serves primarily as a technical demonstration, Hakuto-R is also carrying customer payloads from NASA and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE’s payload includes a small rover, making it the country’s first craft to land on the moon. Ispace has larger aspirations beyond delivering payloads and plans to establish a full-fledged lunar economy, which includes delivering satellites to lunar orbit.
The landing will be live-streamed, starting one hour prior to the landing at 11:40 EST. This successful landing will be a significant milestone for ispace’s future plans to send two subsequent landers to the moon in 2024 and 2025.