First Private Moon Landing Loses Contact at the Last Minute

HAKUTO-R was about to make history as the first private Moon landing in history, but something went wrong, and the module lost contact at the last minute.

Isabel Cara

Hakuto R Moon Landing

The Japanese company Ispace attempted today the first private lunar landing with its HAKUTO-R module, it was expected to be the first landing on Moon soil by a private company, but something unexpected happened; at the last minute the engineering team lost contact with the module, and they are trying to find out what happened.

The Japanese firm Ispace, dedicated to the development of aerospace exploration technologies, including spacecraft, landers, and rovers, is the first private company that dares to launch a module into space bound for the Moon. The launch, scheduled for today (April 25), was broadcast live in the hope that private capital would finally enter the competition for lunar exploration. However, things did not go as planned.

Hakuto r moon landing
Photo: ispace

The Module Lost Contact at the Last Moment

Named HAKUTO-R, the mission was launched in December 2022 and, since then, has been sending pictures back to Earth as it approaches the Moon. It even showed images from April 20, when a rare hybrid solar eclipse occurred; it photographed the Moon’s shadow on the Earth from its vantage point.

The lander was expected to land on April 25, and during the broadcast, the entire Ispace team, along with the virtual audience, eagerly watched as the lander descended through the lunar orbit and approached the sediment of the natural satellite. But in a major setback for the Japanese company, the engineering team lost contact at the last minute with the spacecraft, just moments before it was due to touch down on the lunar soil.

Hakuto r moon landing
Photo: ispace

The team was completely baffled by the event and tried their best to re-establish a connection, though this did not happen. “We lost communication,” Ispace president Takeshi Hakamada finally said, visibly distressed. “We have to assume that it is likely that the ship could not complete the landing,” the businessman added.

As of the time of this publication, Ispace has not given statements on what could have caused the failure of the connection or even the lunar landing of the module. Although it did say it will continue with its plans to become the first private company to land on the Moon. “We have accomplished a lot with this first mission and will gain a lot of information for future missions,” Hakamada added.

HAKUTO-R was to land in the Atlas Crater, a lunar region that was ideal because of its long periods of sunlight and relatively flat topology. This was the first mission of a total of 3 that are planned and the company has said it will continue with its plan.

Story written in Spanish by Alejandra Martínez in Ecoosfera