On January 11, 2023, a month after the launch of the ispace Japanese HAKUTO-R Mission 1, the company announced it had completed 50% of the missions milestones. Onboard the lunar lander are two Canadian payloads.
The first five milestones completed are:
- Completion of launch preparations
- Completion of launch and deployment
- Establishment of a Steady Operation Status
- Completion of the first orbital control maneuver
- Completion of stable deep-space flight operations for one month
In a press release ispace stated that “the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander, which was successfully launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 11, 2022, completed its first orbit control maneuver on Dec. 15, 2022, followed by a second orbital control maneuver on Jan. 2, 2023. The completion of these operations as part of the mission plan, including multiple orbital control maneuvers, over a period of one month is considered highly significant because it increases confidence in future Mission 1 flight operations and provides crucial data that will be incorporated into plans for Mission 2 and Mission 3.”
A further 5 milestones are planned including:
- Completion of all deep space orbital control maneuvers before lunar orbit insertion
- Reaching the lunar gravitational field, lunar orbit
- Completion of all orbit control maneuvers in lunar orbit
- Completion of lunar landing
- Establishment of a steady system state after lunar landing
ispace further stated “as of Jan. 11, 2023, the lander has traveled approximately 1.34 million kilometers from the Earth and is scheduled to be at its farthest point of approximately 1.4 million km from the Earth by Jan. 20, 2023. Once the lander reaches its farthest point from Earth, a third orbital control maneuver may be performed, depending on its navigational status. Since its launch on Dec. 11, 2022, the lander has maintained stable navigation in accordance with the mission plan. During the next stage of navigation, the M1 lander will utilize gravitational forces to complete all deep space control maneuvers and prepare for an orbital insertion. The completion of these maneuvers, currently projected for late March, will signify the achievement of Mission Milestone 6, at which point an announcement is expected to be made. Subsequently, Success 7 of the Mission Milestones, the lunar orbit injection, is scheduled to take place soon thereafter.”
HAKUTO-R is the first commercial mission to attempt to land on the Moon and includes two Canadian payloads, one from Canadensys Aerospace and one from Mission Control Space Services.
The Canadensys Aerospace payload is an AI-enabled operational lunar 360-degree imaging system, including multiple cameras, which was designed to withstand the harsh lunar environment.
The Mission Control Space Services payload is an artificial intelligence-integrated flight computer to classify types of geological features as a rover drives around the lunar surface.