Japan’s private lunar lander Hakuto-R crashed in late April while attempting a salient landing because the altitude sensor on its roof was jammed by the rim of a lunar crater.
Representatives for the Tokyo-based company iSpace, which built the spacecraft, revealed that an unexpected terrain feature caused the spacecraft’s on-board computer to decide its altimeter was wrong and instead rely on a calculation based on the projected altitude at that time. phase of the task. As a result, the computer was convinced that the probe was lower than it actually was, and triggered it collision On April 25th.
“While the probe estimated its altitude to be zero or at the lunar surface, it was later determined to be about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) above the lunar surface,” iSpace said in a statement released on Friday. May 26). “After reaching the specified landing time, the vehicle continued to descend at a low speed until the propulsion system ran out of fuel. At that time, the vehicle’s controlled landing stopped, and it was believed to have fallen freely on the lunar surface.”
Related: The moon crash site has been found! NASA orbiter discovers the grave of a private Japanese lander (photos)
The company said in a media briefing that a lack of consideration for the topography of the terrain around the landing side sufficiently contributed to the failure, in part because the landing site was changed several months before the mission was to take off.
probe which Launched in December 2022 on SpaceX Falcon 9 missile, which was scheduled to land April 26 on the floor of the 54-mile-wide (87 km) Atlas Crater in the Mare Frigoris (“Sea of Chill”) moonnear side. earlier this week, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted the wreckage of the Hakuto-R near the intended landing site.
If successful, the Hakuto-R would have been the first privately operated lunar lander to accomplish a lunar landing. So far, only NASA, China and Russia have spacecraft that have safely landed on the moon.
Ispace stressed that the mission successfully completed eight of its nine mission milestones and only failed in the final stages of its hard landing. Company representatives said the accident will not affect the planned launches of the second and third ispace missions in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
Since the failure was traced back to a software issue, future tasks will not require a hardware redesign.
“Now, we have been able to identify the problem during landing and have a very clear picture of how we can improve our future missions,” Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace, said in the release.