Japanese company seeks to put first private lander on the Moon

Japanese company seeks to put first private lander on the Moon

The firm SpaceX, of the magnate Elon Musk, is preparing to launch the first private and Japanese landing module towards the Moon on Wednesday.

A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to take off at 03:39 (0839 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral base in the state of Florida (southeastern United States), with an alternative date in case of unforeseen events for Thursday.

So far, only the United States, Russia, and China have managed to put a robot on the lunar surface.

The mission was planned by the Japanese company ispace and is the first of a program called Hakuto-R.

The module would touch down around April 2023 on the visible side of the Moon, in the Atlas crater, according to a company statement.

Measuring just over 2 by 2.5 meters, it carries a 10-kilo rover-type vehicle on board called Rashid and built by the United Arab Emirates.

That Persian Gulf country is rich in oil and a latecomer to the space race, but it has recent successes. Among them is a probe sent to Mars in 2020. If successful, Rashid will be the Arab world’s first mission to the moon.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the six short years since we first began conceptualizing this project in 2016,” ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada said.

Hakuto was one of five finalists in the international Google Lunar XPrize competition, a challenge launched with the goal of landing 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 the Israeli organization SpaceIL, failed in April 2019 trying to become the first privately funded mission to accomplish the feat, after crashing into the lunar surface while attempting to land.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.