Japanese space startup Ispace Inc. announced that its Moon lander could land on the Moon as early as April 26. If successful, it would be the first private company in the world to reach the Moon and the first private or public organization in Japan to do so. Ispace launched the lander under its Hakuto-R exploration program to test its descent technology and aims to control the spacecraft from its Tokyo command center.
Ispace founder and CEO Takeshi Hakamada said he is looking forward to the historic day, which will mark the beginning of a new era of commercial lunar missions. The lander was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in December. It has taken a longer, energy-efficient route to the Moon to carry less fuel and entered the Moon’s orbit in March.
The lander, which is about 2.3 meters tall and 2.6 meters wide, carries cargo, including a small transformable robot developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and toy company Tomy Co. If the mission goes as planned, the lander will touch down at around 1:40 a.m. on April 26, Japan Standard Time. The first stage of the program is named after a white rabbit from Japanese folklore that is said to live on the Moon.
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