A Japanese company is pushing ahead with plans to launch a private lunar lander by the end of 2022, a year packed with other moonshot ambitions and maneuvers that could herald the return of humans soon. the surface of the Moon.
If plans go through, Tokyo-based ispace will make the first intact Japanese spacecraft landing on the moon. And by the time it arrives, it could find other new visitors who have begun exploring the moon’s kingship this year from Russia and the United States. (Yutu-2, a Chinese explorercurrently a lone robot mission to the moon.)
Other missions in 2022 plan to orbit the moon, notably NASA’s Artemis-1 mission, a key yet-to-be-launched test of American hardware intended to return astronauts to the moon. moon. South Korea could also launch its first lunar orbiter later this year.
But other countries that had hoped to go to the moon by 2022 have fallen behind. India has been planning a second robotic landing this year. But its Chandrayaan-3 mission has been delayed to mid-2023, K. Sivan said, who completed his term as president of the country’s space agency this month. On the other hand, Russia remains confident that The Luna-25 lander will take off this summer.
The M1 lunar lander built by ispace is about the size of a small hot tub. It is in the final stages of assembly in Germany at the facilities of the Ariane Group, the company’s European partner, which recently built the rocket. Launch of the James Webb . Space Telescope.
If structural tests go as planned in April, M1 will be transported to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch on one of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.
Takeshi Hakamada, founder and chief executive officer of ispace, said during a press conference in Japan on Tuesday: “As of today, a specific launch date is planned, at the earliest, the end of the year at the earliest. 2022.
The moon landing will take place three to four months later as the mission uses long lunar orbit to save fuel and maximize the amount of cargo the M1 lander can carry.
A few years ago, ispace made it to the finals Google Lunar X Prize – a contest that ended in 2018 No winner the $20 million prize pool is used to stimulate private moon missions. Although it did not win a Google award, the company raised over $90 million in 2017 and see a future healthy business carrying payloads to the lunar surface for governments, research agencies, and private companies.
Its ambitious timeline predicts more than 10 moon landings in the coming years, amid a rush of landings by space companies that are expected to mine the moon with robots to get to the moon. Valuable resources such as iron and silicon can be returned to Earth or used to expand structures on the Moon’s surface.
Customers for space’s first moon landing include Japan’s space agency, JAXA, which aims to test a small rover that can change shape for different terrains and the United Arab Emirates space program, is sending its first lunar rover, a four-rotating robot named Rashid.
Nations and private companies have set their sights on the moon in recent years because of its potential to serve as a platform for spacecraft and other technologies that could be used for missions destined to Mars in the future. The Artemis program is relying heavily on private companies to reduce the cost of going to the moon and hopes to stimulate a commercial market for various lunar services.
While ispace’s M1 mission is primarily about demonstrating operations on the moon, the company’s next mission, M2, will carry a “microplane” of its own, built to fly around the surface and study the lunar topography. Hideki Shimomura, ispace’s chief technology officer, said that mission has been delayed to 2024 from 2023 because of technical schedule changes and to accommodate customer schedules.
Two US companies are also aiming for the moon before the end of the year; Astrobotic, a space robotics company in Pittsburgh, and Visual Machines in Houston. Both companies are building their spacecraft with support from the Commercial Lunar Payload Service, a NASA program that helps fund the development of privately owned landers. capable of sending research instruments to the surface of the Moon.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/science/japan-moon-ispace.html Japanese company to join March Back to the Moon in 2022