SpaceX is set to launch the first private, Japanese lander on the Moon on Wednesday.
A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off at 03:39 (08:39 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a backup date Thursday.
So far, only the United States, Russia and China have managed to put a robot on the lunar surface.
The mission, carried out by Japanese company ispace, is the first in a program called Hakuto-R.
The lander would land around April 2023 on the visible side of the Moon, in the Atlas crater, according to a statement from the company.
Measuring just over 2 by 2.5 meters, it carries on board a 10-kilogram rover named Rashid, built by the United Arab Emirates. The oil-rich country is a relative newcomer to the space race but counts recent successes including a Mars probe in 2020. If successful, Rashid will be the Arab world’s first lunar mission.
“We have accomplished so much in the six short years since we started conceptualizing this project in 2016,” said ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada.
Hakuto was one of five finalists in the international Google Lunar XPrize competition, a challenge to land a rover on the Moon before a 2018 deadline, which ended without a winner. But some projects are still ongoing.
Another finalist, from Israeli organization SpaceIL, failed in April 2019 to become the first privately funded mission to achieve the feat, after crashing on the surface while trying to land.
ispace, which has just 200 employees, says it “aims to expand the sphere of human life in space and create a sustainable world by providing high frequencylow-cost transportation services to the Moon.”
Future missions should contribute to NASA’s Artemis program. Artemis-1, an uncrewed test flight to the Moon, is currently underway.
The American space agency wants to develop the lunar economy in the years to come by building a space station orbiting the Moon and a surface base.
He awarded contracts to several companies to develop landers to transport scientific experiments to the surface.
Among them, the American companies Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines are scheduled to take off in 2023, and could arrive at their destination before ispace by taking a more direct route, according to reports.
© 2022 AFP
Quote: A Japanese company aims to put the first private lander on the Moon, with a rover from the United Arab Emirates on board (2022, November 29) Retrieved on November 29, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11- japanese-company-aims-private-lander.html
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