The Hakuto-R Mission 1 Moon lander, which aimed to be the first private lander on the Moon, has likely crashed into the Moon's surface, according to its creators.
The lander began its four month journey in December 2022, being launched by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Without the annoyance of having to keep astronauts alive, the team was able to send the craft to the Moon on a slower but more fuel-efficient journey, while also allowing for a slower final approach.
Unfortunately, the ispace team lost contact with the craft before it could land and release a rover and a toy robot.
"We have not confirmed communication from the lander," ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada said in a press conference. "We already confirmed that we had established communications until the very end of the landing. However, now we've lost the communication, so we have to assume that we could not complete the landing on the lunar surface."
Impressive video from the lander of the Moon's surface was shown during the live-stream.
The team has said that the craft was running out of propellant and rapidly descending when the communication loss happened, and that it finally crashed hard into the surface.
While the lander likely failed in the final part of its mission, Hakamada said that the communications received would help them with future missions.
“Although we do not expect to complete the lunar landing at this time, we believe that we have fully accomplished the significance of this mission, having acquired a great deal of data and experience by being able to execute the landing phase," Hakamada said in a statement. "What is important is to feed this knowledge and learning back to Mission 2 and beyond so that we can make the most of this experience".
Mission 2 will involve landing a rover on the Moon, while Mission 3 will deploy two communications relay satellites in its orbit.