Japan’s ispace set to become the first private firm to launch a lunar lander on the moon

The Tokyo-based company will also achieve the first Japanese lunar landing.
Loukia Papadopoulos
ispace's lunar lander.
ispace's lunar lander.


Tokyo-based ispace is set to become the world's first private company to land a lunar lander on the moon this December.

“ispace, inc., a global lunar exploration company, released an updated launch schedule for its Mission 1 (M1) lunar lander, now scheduled to liftoff from SLC-40 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station no earlier than Dec. 11, 2022. The M1 lander, part of the HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program, will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket,” said a press statement on ispace’s website.

The mission was initially scheduled to launch on November 30, but the launch date was delayed.

This is not Japan’s first attempt at a lunar lander moon landing. OMOTENASHI was launched on November 16 by the national Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and was set to become the first Japanese spacecraft to land on the moon. 

However, communication issues forced it to abandon its mission. If ispace’s mission proves successful it will have achieved two firsts: the first private company to execute a lunar landing as well as Japan's first lunar landing. 

A new and improved mission

The mission is different from past ones as it does not take the shortest path to the moon. The lander will first travel beyond the moon's orbit (about 1.5 million km or 932000 miles away from earth) where it will then change its course by taking advantage of the earth, moon, and sun's gravities. 

Japan’s ispace set to become the first private firm to launch a lunar lander on the moon
Tokyo's lunar lander on the moon.

It will only land on the moon at the end of April 2023. These dates of course are subject to change according to the mission’s take off. The strange path the lander will take is to save fuel.

In space missions, fuel is extremely crucial and even saving the smallest amount can go a long way to ensuring a mission’s success. In this case, ispace will use the gravity of the earth, moon, and sun to correct its craft’s flight direction with a minimum amount of fuel, resulting in a fuel total that is less than half of that of conventional routes.

Parcels sent to the moon

Like all space missions, this one will also seek to bring parcels to the moon. Aboard it will be cargo which will include a small robot by JAXA and a space probe of the United Arab Emirates' space agency in Dubai.

Ryo Ujiie, ispace’s chief technology officer, told JRA the mission is aided by the fact that his company is a private one and that this allows it to make many future plans.

"We want to take advantage of the benefits of a private company, such as rapid decision-making, and in the future connect this to the utilization of the lunar surface and the establishment of sustainable development projects,” Ujiie concluded.

In August of 2021, we reported that ispace was working closely with experts in the field to produce its lunar lander, including the General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group (GA-EMS) and Draper. 

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