SpaceX is preparing to launch the world’s first private lunar craft: ScienceAlert

SpaceX is preparing to launch the world’s first private lunar craft: ScienceAlert

SpaceX is scheduled to launch the first private – and Japanese – lander on Wednesday month.

The Falcon 9 rocket is planned to explode at 3:39 am (08:39 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a backup date of Thursday.

So far, only the United States, Russia and China have managed to place a robot on the surface of the Moon.

The mission of the Japanese company ispace is the first in the program called Hakuto-R.

The lander would land around April 2023 on the visible side of the Moon, in the Atlas crater, according to the company’s announcement.

Measuring just over 2 by 2.5 meters (6.5 by 8 feet), it houses a 10-kilogram rover named Rashid, built by the United Arab Emirates.

The oil-rich country is new to the space race but counts recent successes, including a mars probe in 2020. If successful, Rashid will be the first Arab mission to the moon.

“We have accomplished so much in the six short years since we first started conceptualizing this project in 2016,” he said ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada.


Hakuto was one of five finalists in the international Google Lunar XPrize competition, a challenge to land a rover on the moon before the 2018 deadline, which ended without a winner. But some of the projects are still ongoing.

Another finalist, from Israel’s SpaceIL, failed in April 2019 to become the first privately funded mission to accomplish the feat, after crashing to the surface while attempting to land.

ispace, which has just 200 employees, says it “aims to expand the sphere of human life into space and create a sustainable world by providing high-frequency and low-cost transportation services to the moon.”

Future missions will contribute to NASA’s Artemis program. Artemis-1, an unmanned test flight to the Moon, is currently underway.

The US space agency wants to develop a lunar economy in the coming years by building a space station in orbit around the moon and a base on the surface.

It awarded contracts to several companies to develop landers to transport scientific experiments to the surface.

Among them, American companies Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines are scheduled to take off in 2023, and could reach their destination before space via a direct route, according to reports.

© French media agency

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