The lander used in the unmanned moon landing project ‘Hakuto-R’ of the Japanese space company iSpace. Provided by ispace
A private spacecraft of the Japanese space company ‘iSpace’, which crashed while attempting to land on the moon last month, failed to land because it misjudged the altitude, a result of an investigation has come out.
iSpace announced at a press conference held on the 26th (local time) that a software error related to altitude measurement occurred as a result of analyzing the flight data of the lunar lander ‘Hakuto-R Mission 1’.
According to iSpace, Hakuto-R Mission 1 began landing at 0:40 on the 26th of last month by lowering the altitude. After completing the planned landing sequence in order, it slowed down to a speed of 3.2 km per hour and safely reached the point at an altitude of 5 km on the lunar surface.
However, it immediately crashed into a crater on the moon at a speed of 320 km/h. “A review of the data showed that the sensor that measures the lander’s altitude malfunctioned when it passed the edge of a crater on the lunar surface that was about 3 kilometers above the surrounding terrain,” iSpace said.
The spacecraft analyzes that an error may have occurred in the software that measures altitude while changing the landing point of Hakudo-R Mission 1 in 2021. Initially, iSpace chose ‘Dream Lake’, a flat terrain on the moon, as its landing point, but later changed its destination to ‘Atlas’, an impact crater about 80 km wide formed on the lunar surface. It is said that the altitude measurement software did not properly detect the change in altitude as it landed on a crater terrain rather than a plain.
iSpace explained that software failure problems are easier to fix than hardware problems. The follow-up moon landing project will also proceed without a hitch, he said. Takeshi Hakamada, CEO of Ispace, said at a press conference, “There is little change in the schedule for landing a spacecraft on the moon that is almost identical to the Hakuto-R Mission 1 next year.” “We have insurance for the lander and the financial impact on the company will be minimal,” he added.
If iSpace’s Hakuto-R Mission 1 project was successful, it was the world’s first moon landing by a private company, but it was ultimately unsuccessful.
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