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Hakuto-R1 lands on Moon but ceases communications at touchdown

Lunar map showing Hakuto-R1's landing spot
Hakuto-R1’s planned landing site is in Atlas Crater.

According to the Hakuto-R1 engineering team, the lander provided full data and maintained communications right up until touchdown, but at that point they lost contact with the spacecraft.

The loss of data at landing suggests something went wrong at touchdown. That they were able to maintain contact until then, and the data appeared correct, suggests that the spacecraft descended properly into Atlas Crater, but then touched down on some rough ground that either caused it to topple, or damaged it on contact.

This remains speculation however. We will have to wait for a full update from Ispace.

This was a engineering mission to test the company’s spacecraft design and its ability to operate a lunar mission. The failure at landing means it achieved about 8 to 9 of its 10 milestones. How this final failure will effect its next mission as well as its contract with NASA remains unclear.

Genesis cover

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  • Bob Wilson

    Is the landing site at a location where they can get an image?

  • David Ross

    The Koreans and Scots may have improved the landing-problem on airless worlds, generally. Unfortunately they solved the problem today. A bit late.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I heard no reference in the introductory briefing to any prior attempt to survey or otherwise evaluate the surface at the target landing area. Nor did I hear any mention of any onboard radar or photo sensors to avoid landing in rough terrain.

    In light of this, it is reasonable to conclude that the landing was essentially “blind”. Thus Hakuto could have simply dropped onto a boulder or other form of extremely uneven surface, and tumbled over.

    The above question about whether the site could now be photographed after the landing raises the obvious question: could it or should it have been photographed beforehand?!

  • Jay

    Interesting discussion of the loss of signal was five minutes after the planned touchdown .
    Looking at the AMSAT-DL signal from Bochum Observatory, was the descent path wrong or did they plan the wrong time?

  • Mark

    I don’t know if I trust the telemetry. 1 kph = .27777 meter/sec so I think it came in hot and bounced or spatted. I would be helpful if someone with the skill to simulate this reentry using the their telemetry for a sanity check.

    Cameras images of the decent would have permitted mission control to send steering commands up to 5 seconds before touchdown to avoid boulders since it only takes 1.22 seconds for radio signals to reach the moon 1 way. Better luck next time.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Release I just read from iSpace says they monitored cessation of burn, followed by rapid increase in descent rate, followed by end of signal. Not a good look.

  • Ray Van Dune: Can you provide the link?

  • Gary

    Did it run out of gas?

    “Based on the currently available data, the HAKUTO-R Mission Control Center in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, confirmed that the lander was in a vertical position as it carried out the final approach to the lunar surface. Shortly after the scheduled landing time, no data was received indicating a touchdown. ispace engineers monitored the estimated remaining propellant reached at the lower threshold and shortly afterward the descent speed rapidly increased. After that, the communication loss happened. Based on this, it has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the Moon’s surface.”

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