January 27, 2023

SpaceX is set to launch its own moon lander, along with NASA's 'Flashlight' probe

SpaceX is set to launch its own moon lander, along with NASA’s ‘Flashlight’ probe

An artist's impression of the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander from ispace.

An artist’s impression of the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander from ispace.
picture: ispace

SpaceX is preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Wednesday morning. The mission, which includes private and public payloads, exemplifies the current state of the spaceflight industry and the changing way we explore space.

It’s a fairly routine launch for SpaceX, but the mission packs a big punch. Packed aboard the Falcon 9 rocket is ispace’s Hakuto-R spacecraft, which itself is chock-full of a variety of lunar surface-bound goodies. Also on board is NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Moon Flashlight, a lunar-bound probe searching for water. Ice from the point of view of a rarely used orbit.

ispace M1 mission

Falcon 9 is set The launch will take place from Space Launch Complex 40 at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral in Florida at 3:39 a.m. ET on Wednesday, November 30. If the launch has to be cancelled, a backup opportunity will be available on Thursday It’s 3:37 a.m. ET. The live stream should start 15 minutes before take-off, which you can watch at SpaceXAnd the YouTubeOr in the live broadcast above.

The Falcon 9 first stage will attempt a vertical descent to Landing Area 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station approximately eight minutes into the mission. The Hakuto-R spacecraft is scheduled to be deployed on 46-minute mark, with the Lunar Flashlight firing six minutes later.

The launch itself isn’t a big deal, but it carries historic consequences. Hakuto-R, a product of Tokyo-based ispace, will attempt to deploy the company’s lander 1 (M1) to the lunar surface. Should the Hakuto-R M1 land safe and sound, ispace will become the first private company to achieve this feat. A successful mission will usher in a new era, with commercial suppliers routinely delivering cargo to the moon. In fact, ispace’s Hakuto-R Mission 1 is the first of what the company hopes will be several low-cost deliveries to the lunar surface.

ispace Hakuto-R Mission 1 profile and features.

ispace Hakuto-R Mission 1 profile and features.
Draw: ispace

The Hakuto-R M1 lander will perform reconnaissance missions as a stationary probe, but will also attempt to deliver several payloads to the surface, including a 22-pound (10-kilogram) Rashid Rover Manufactured by the United Arab Emirates and a transformable robot that looks like a ball, its name Sora-Qdeveloped by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Tommy game a company.

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Other Hakuto-R payloads include AI flight computer From the Canadian Space Agency, a lunar camera Developed by the Canadian company Canadensys, it is a solid battery, CD-ROM containing the song “SoratoPerformed by the Japanese band Sakanaction, and a plaque inscribed with the names of crowdfunding supporters. The Hakuto-R M1 lander is expected to land inside the Lunar Atlas crater in April 2023.

Conceptual image showing the SORA-Q convertible robot in action on the Moon.

Conceptual image showing the SORA-Q convertible robot in action on the Moon.
picture: Robosmart

The Hakuto-R M1 isn’t the first attempt by a private company to ride a lunar lander. That distinction goes to Israel’s SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries, which, with the support of the Israel Space Agency, have attempted to put together The Beresheet lander on the moon In 2019. Unfortunately, computer and communication problems caused it to malfunction Beresheet to collide with the moon Surface. The United States, the Soviet Union, and China all gained access Land safely on the moon, but they were public space missions.

An artistic impression of a NASA lunar flashlight.

An artistic impression of a NASA lunar flashlight.
picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Falcon 9 will also launch JPL’s Lunar Flashlight, a probe designed to operate from a near straight halo orbit (NRHO) around the Moon. If that Sounds familiar, probably because you’re thinking of NASA’s CAPSTONE probe, which… It recently became the first working satellite of the NRHO. CAPSTONE is paving the way for a future space station, called Gatebut Lunar Flashlight is on a different mission.

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The suitcase-sized probe will come within 9 miles (15 kilometers) of the moon’s south pole along its highly eccentric orbit, where it will search for water ice in permanently shadowed craters. The lunar lamp will use four types of infrared lasers to illuminate beams of light in different colors at wavelengths that can be absorbed by surface water ice. The higher the observed absorption, the higher the likelihood of ice being present on the surface.

“We’re bringing flashlights to the moon — beaming lasers into these dark craters to look for final signs of the water ice covering the top layer of the lunar regolith,” said Barbara Cohen, principal investigator for NASA’s Lunar Lamp. statement. “I am excited to see our mission contribute to our scientific understanding of where water ice is on the Moon and how it got there.”

Like I said, a lot to unpack with this launch. It all began, early tomorrow morning with the modest launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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