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Japanese Moon Lander Most Likely Crashed, Ispace Says

  • April 26, 2023

However, other attempts have failed.

Beresheet, an effort by SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit, crashed in April 2019 when a command sent to the spacecraft inadvertently turned off the main engine, causing the spacecraft to plummet to its destruction.

Eight months later, India’s Vikram lander shifted off course about a mile above the surface during its landing attempt, then went quiet.

If the Ispace lander did crash, it might take some time to understand from the telemetry sent back from the spacecraft to figure out what happened. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was eventually able to spot the crash sites of Beresheet and Vikram, and may be able to find M1’s resting place in the Atlas Crater, too.

Ispace is not the only private space company to encounter difficulties in the first few months of 2023. New rocket models built by SpaceX, ABL Space Systems, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Relativity failed during their first ever flights, although some got farther into space than others. Virgin Orbit’s most recent rocket launch failed and the company later declared bankruptcy, although it continues to work toward another launch.

At the same time, launch frequency is higher than ever, with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket having dozens of successful liftoffs so far in 2023. An Arianespace rocket also sent a European Space Agency probe on a mission to Jupiter.

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