Sunday, February 25, 2024

Japan’s ispace aims to launch its second moon mission in 2024

Japanese company ispace showed off its moon lander under construction for a new moon landing mission in 2024. If all goes to plan, the Mission 2 lander will host a micro rover for a launch in the fourth quarter of 2024.

This mission will be ispace’s second attempt at a moon landing, following a navigation error that led to a crash during its first attempt in 2023.

The first lunar mission, the HAKUTO-R lander, launched in December 2022 but unfortunately crashed during its attempt in April last year. The onboard computer of the spacecraft miscalculated the altitude, which caused the unfortunate crash landing. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) took ten pictures of the crash site near the Atlas crater using its Narrow-Angle Cameras and sent them back in May. The images show a clear view of the impact caused by the crash.

The new mission that is set to get to the surface of the moon will have a micro-rover on board. The rover is quite small, measuring 10.24 inches (26 cm) tall, 12.4 inches (31.5 cm) wide, and 21.26 inches (54 cm) long, with a weight of about 1 pound (5 kilograms). The rover will be equipped with a high-definition camera that will be used to take images of moon dirt as it scoops samples.

The HAKUTO-R lander had a mass of about 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg). The second mission expands on the first, incorporating software and other adjustments based on what happened during Mission 1. The lander for the mission is named Resilience, which aligns with the company’s motto of “Never Quit the Lunar Quest.”

Mission 2 will be an initial effort to explore resources, which is an important measure to promote the establishment of the Cislunar Economy.

ispace is planning for Mission 3, which is scheduled for launch in 2026. The next mission will use the Apex 1.0 lunar lander, a larger lander with a projected payload capacity of 1,100 pounds (500 kg).