Private Japanese mission takes off for moon

This Tuesday, November 29, the ISPACE company sends its Hakuto landing aboard an American rocket. Commercial competition for space trips is arguing and new players, such as the United Arab Emirates, take their ticket.

by Pierre Barthélémy

If we had to select a project summarizing both the international excitement around the lunar exploration and the bubbling of the New Space – an expression designating all this private sector which rises to the assault of the space -, the mission- 1 of the Japanese company ISPACE would be an ideal choice. Let us judge: Wednesday, November 30, at 8:39 am GMT (9:39 am in Paris), an American Falcon-9 rocket from SpaceX, the company of Elon Musk, must take off from Cap Canaveral (Florida) to send On the moon the Japanese Hakuto of Ispace, itself carrying a minirover of the United Arab Emirates (water), equipped with French cameras …

After the failure of the Israeli probe Bereshit in 2019, which crashed when arriving on our satellite, this Japanese project claims to be the first private mission to land on the moon. It is however possible that it is led to the post by the landing Nova-C of the American intuitive machine company, which should leave in March 2023 and make the Terre-Moon trip in just six days. Mission-1, on the other hand, will take all its time by following an energy efficient trajectory but four months long, which will make it arrive at the beginning of spring, is almost at the same time as Nova-C.

We could therefore attend a spatial version of the race between the hare and the turtle dear to the fountain. In both cases, the most crucial phase will be that of moving, maneuver that, in recent years, only Chinese have managed to master, unlike Israelis and Indians, whose Chandrayaan-2 mission has been Also, finished with a crash, in 2019.

rashid, a featherweight

If the Hakuto landing manages to land without incident in the Atlas lunar crater, he will then release little Rashid. This is the name of the mobile robot developed by the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, of which it is the second mission to explore the solar system, after the Al-Aal orbit (“hope”), which revolves around from March since 2021 and studies its atmosphere. If we compare it to the ton of the American Martian Rover Perseverance or simply to the 140 kilos of the Chinese Lunar Astromobiles, Rashid is feathered: ten kilos, 50 centimeters of scope and 70 high when its mast is in place. The objective is mainly to demonstrate that technology works, water, recent arrived in the space sector, being still in the “catch-up” phase vis-à-vis nations endowed with greater experience.

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/Media reports cited above.