An unmanned commercial spacecraft from Japan has been successfully launched into lunar orbit. This is an important step towards the company’s first landing on the moon. That should happen at the end of April, Builder ispace reports.
The Japanese company’s craft was launched in December. To save fuel, the spacecraft took a long way to the Moon. The gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun propelled the spacecraft to its destination. It came within 1.5 million kilometers of Earth, four times the distance from the Moon. Because of the long path, the journey took months, not a few days at most.
In the long term, ispace wants to extract raw materials and water from the lunar surface. This could help build a manned base on the moon. The Hakuto-R mission is to test the design and technology. The Japanese are cooperating with the space agencies of the United States and Europe to exploit the moon.
The Rashid reconnaissance vehicle, developed by the United Arab Emirates, will also accompany it. This unmanned rover should roam the lunar surface for about two weeks to conduct scientific research using cameras and sensors. Rashid weighs about 10 kilograms, has a length and width of more than 50 centimeters, and a height of about 70 centimeters. In 2020, a satellite from the Emirates went to Mars.
So far, only the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia and China have managed to land on the Moon. Attempts by Israel and India failed.
Two other companies are also working on a mission to the moon. The Peregrine lander from US company Astrobotic Technology won’t depart until May at the earliest, while the Nova-C launch from US company Intuitive Machines is scheduled for June at the moment.
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