ispace HAKUTO-R Lunar Lander Launch Now Scheduled for November 22

The M1 lander, part of the HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program, is prepared for transport at the IABG GmbH Space Centre in Germany. Credit: ispace.

With two Canadian payloads onboard, the ispace HAKUTO-R Mission 1 (M1) lunar lander has been shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida for a November 22 launch date.

The launch of the first commercial lunar lander mission to attempt a landing on the Moon was originally scheduled between November 9 -15. However, ispace stated that after consulting with SpaceX, the new tentative launch date would be moved to November 22 because it “allows for best preparation for the mission when considering the fuel-loading schedule for the lander and launch date availability.” SpaceX has a busy schedule at the Cape and NASA still has the Artemis 1 launch scheduled for November 14.

The two Canadian payloads are from Canadensys Aerospace and Mission Control Space Services. Canadensys is providing a multi-camera vision system while Mission Control is providing a first of its kind AI-based demonstration flight computer.

The HAKUTO-R lunar Lander went through “final testing including vibration tests, thermal vacuum tests, mass property and functional testing” and other testing at the IABG GmbH Space Centre near Munich, Germany before it was packed into a cargo plane the Munich International Airport for its late October flight to  Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The M1 lander is loaded onto the cargo plane for transport to Cape Canaveral, Fla. Credit: ispace.
The M1 lander is loaded onto the cargo plane for transport to Cape Canaveral, Fla. Credit: ispace.

Once launched, the M1 “will be operated from the HAKUTO-R Mission Control Center (MCC) located in Tokyo’s central business district, Nihonbashi.” Tracking will be provided by the European Space Agency Tracking Station Network (ESTRACK) and will use “five of the ESTRACK network’s antennas across three continents, located in Kourou (French Guiana), New Norcia (Western Australia), Cebreros (Spain), Malargüe (Argentina) and Goonhilly (UK).”

ispace is already planning for a second mission, simply called Mission 2. Details on playloads will be released at a later date. The company is also actively preparing for Mission 3 through its subsidiary ispace technologies U.S., inc. That company was part of a Draper led team that won a US$73 million contract this summer from NASA as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program “to deliver payloads including two communication relay satellites to lunar orbit as well as a suite of scientific experiments to the lunar surface.” The M3 will also carry commercial payloads to use all the available payload space on the lunar lander.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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