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SpaceX successfully launches Ispace’s Hakuto-R private mission to Moon

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

Using its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX tonight successfully launched Ispace’s Hakuto-R lunar lander, the first private mission attempting to softly land on the Moon.

The Falcon 9 first stage completed its fifth flight, landing successfully at Cape Canaveral.

Hakuto-R, which is actually the first of two missions, carries seven payloads, including two small rovers, Rashid, which is the United Arab Emirates first lunar mission, and a smaller rover built by Ispace. Both will operate for about a week, one lunar day. Hakuto-R will land on the Moon in April, 2023.

A second payload is a cubesat from JPL, called Lunar Flashlight. It will go into lunar orbit, testing new fuel technologies while also attempting to identify water in the permanently shadowed craters at the lunar south pole.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

57 China
56 SpaceX
21 Russia
9 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 80 to 57 in the national rankings, but trails the entire world combined 87 to 80.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Milt

    Speaking of going back to the moon…

    Check out
    — and what might be the ultimate Christmas gift for anyone whose interest lies along these lines.

    50 years on and 400 (out of 35,000) images. Thank you, Mr. Saunders. and all of the people who made this possible.

  • Ray Van Dune

    “Both will operate for about a week, one lunar day.”

    A Lunar day is the same length as a Lunar month, roughly 28 Earth days or four Earth weeks. If one uses “Lunar day” to mean sunrise to sunset as is often done, that is still two weeks, not one. It may well be that the rovers will operate during the peak sunlit hours of a Lunar day, which might be considered about a week.

    Perhaps “Both will operate for about a week, the most brightly illuminated portion of one lunar day.”?

  • wayne

    good stuff!

  • geoffc

    How are we doing on total launches for the year, compared to history? 167 is pretty high, right?

  • Edward

    The fourth figure of this annual report should answer your question (successful orbital launches worldwide, 1957 to 2021):

  • Ray Van Dune: Yes, both will work during the warmest week of the daylight part of the lunar day.

  • Ray Van Dune

    I have heard of recent statements by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson that SpaceX intends to land a crew on the Moon in late 2024. I have also heard such statements from Elon Musk, who admitted that they were “aspirational”.

    Bill Nelson’s statement seems to tacitly acknowledge that Artemis cannot take us back to the Moon until late in this decade, even with SpaceX landing technology, and so any landing earlier is going to be an all-SpaceX show. Probably no Lunar Gateway, or what pieces are available lofted by Falcon Heavy.

    This is great news if true, because I fear the Chinese putting together a crash program to beat the US back to the Moon, using Apollo-vintage technology to just get a set of boots on the ground, akin to the final Soviet plans using N-1.

  • Ian C.

    “the first private mission attempting to softly land on the Moon.”

    The first that tried it was SpaceIL from Israel in 2019. They crashed. But that wasn’t intentional.

  • Darwin Teague

    Has Elon Musk’s focus on Twitter caused him to neglect SpaceX?

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