In the nation’s first-ever lunar mission and the first of its type by a private firm, a spacecraft built by a Japanese startup was launched to the moon on Sunday.
After two delays for further pre-flight inspections, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched the rocket from Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida.
space, a company located in Tokyo, built the spacecraft, which launched at 2:38 a.m. on a Falcon 9 rocket.
Takeshi Hakamada, the startup’s CEO, stated in a statement that “our first mission will establish the foundation for releasing the moon’s potential and transforming it into a healthy and thriving economic system.”
Only the US, Russia, and China have been able to successfully land a robot on the moon thus far.
The Hakuto-R program, which stands for “white rabbit” in Japanese, launched with the space mission.
In April 2023—the Japanese year of the rabbit—the business predicted that their lunar lander will touch down on the Moon’s surface.
The spacecraft, which has a payload weighing 10 kilograms and measuring slightly over two by 2.5 meters, is equipped with a 10-kilogram rover created by the United Arab Emirates.
Although the Gulf nation is a relative newbie to the space competition, it just launched a spacecraft into Mars’ orbit. It will be the first lunar expedition for the Arab world if the rover, Rashid, lands successfully.
Hakuto was one of five finalists in Google’s Lunar XPrize competition to send a rover to the moon by the year 2018 deadline, however, there was no winner.
In addition, the Japanese space agency’s space lunar lander is carrying two robots and a CD that has the Google competition-inspired song “SORATO” by the Japanese rock group Sakanaction.
Another contender in the competition, the Israeli organization SpaceIL, failed in April 2019 to become the first privately-funded mission to land on the moon when its lander collided with the lunar surface.
With under 200 workers, space has stated that it “aims to extend the scope of human life into space and establish a sustainable planet by delivering high-frequency, low-cost transportation services to the moon.”