Despite the partial success of Hakuto-R Mission 1, ispace has begun assembling its second spacecraft at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center. Hakuto-R Mission 2 lander is a Series 1 model, like its predecessor, with an improved navigation software, developed thanks to the previous unfortunate mission’s teachings.
Assembly, integration, and testing of our HAKUTO-R Mission 2 lunar lander flight model has begun at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center (@TKSC_JAXA). (1/2)#ispace #HAKUTO_R #lunarquest pic.twitter.com/J1GOe8Wy92— ispace (@ispace_inc) July 13, 2023
Hakuto-R and ispace moon ambitions
ispace Inc. has always had the Moon in its sights, since the beginning of its journey as the managing company of Team Hakuto, one of the 5 finalists in the Google Lunar XPRIZE Competition. They see the natural satellite as a strategic source of resources “to enrich our daily lives on earth, as well as expand our living sphere into space”.
To achieve its goals, ispace developed Hakuto-R Series 1, a spacecraft capable of being launched on a commercial rocket, reaching the Moon, landing, and exploring the surface.
Unfortunately, the first mission, Hakuto-R Mission 1, failed unexpectedly on the final step of the mission, the soft landing on the surface.
According to the company’s technical analysis, there was a communication problem between the onboard computer and the radar altimeter, causing an error in altitude measurement. The spacecraft hovered in orbit five kilometers from the surface until the propellant was exhausted and the inevitable hard impact occurred.
Hakuto-R, a series of missions to tame the Moon
To fulfill its Moon strategy, ispace established a plan of frequent missions, one after another. While Mission 1 (M1) was still in its final stages, ispace was already working on Mission 2 (M2), which is now in the assembly, integration, and test phase.
M2 Lander will bring several payloads to the lunar surface, including a micro rover developed by ispace itself, a legacy from Hakuto’s original prototype. Its main purpose will be to prove the ability to travel on the surface and to collect lunar regolith.
Other commercial experiments carried by the M2 spacecraft:
- Equipment to conduct the first-ever water-splitting by Takasago Thermal Engineering Co. Ltd.
- A self-contained module to conduct the world’s first food production experiment on the lunar surface by Euglena, Co. Ltd.
- A deep space radiation probe to measure radiation effects on electronics by the National Central University of Taiwan.
Currently, there are no changes in the mission schedule and the launch of the M2 spacecraft is scheduled for 2024 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.