ispace HAKUTO-R Mission 1: Landing Live Stream

The lander was launched into space in December 2022 onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It is carrying two different robotic Moon rovers; one called Rashid, built by the UAE’s space agency; and a more novel design called SORA-Q, built for the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. It is also carrying an experiment to test a unique solid-state battery design.


Since the Hakuto-R spacecraft left the planet, engineers at iSpace have been working through a series of milestones to demonstrate their control over the vehicle. After ensuring they could communicate with the spacecraft, and that it was generating sufficient electrical power, flight controllers proceeded through a series of maneuvers that brought the vehicle into orbit around the Moon. The next step will be activating the software that will autonomously maneuver the vehicle to a landing in the Atlas crater.

The primary goal of this mission is simply to prove that iSpace can safely deliver cargo to the lunar surface. That’s no easy feat: Just three nations—the Soviet Union, the United States, and China—have done so. A 2019 attempt by India’s space agency with the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft failed, and the first private attempt to do so, by an Israeli NGO called SpaceIL that same year, saw its Beresheet lander crash into the Moon.


NASA has hired multiple companies to carry cargo to the Moon. US firms Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines are expected to launch their own landers later this year; the former onboard the first flight of the new United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket, and the latter onboard Falcon 9 flights tentatively scheduled for July and October. India is also set to try again, with the Chandrayaan-3 mission scheduled to launch in June.

What does the future hold for iSpace?

iSpace is also developing a second mission in 2024 with a similar lander, which will include commercial payloads and collect a sample of lunar soil for NASA. iSpace also is part of a consortium, led by the US firm Draper, that has been hired to deliver scientific instruments to the far side of the Moon by NASA in 2025.


The company is having a notable month: iSpace went public at the Tokyo Stock Exchange on April 12; at press time, investors valued the enterprise at about $1.2 billion.

iSpace originally emerged as one of the finalists in the Google Lunar XPrize, a contest begin in 2007 that would have awarded $20 million to the first private team to land a robot on the Moon. After several deadline extensions, the contest ended in 2018 without a winner. Still, the initiative spurred technology development at iSpace and other firms that is boosting today’s efforts at lunar exploration.


“We have very ambitious visions, that we want to create a world where human beings can live in space,” iSpace CEO Takeshi Hakamada told Quartz in 2018, when the Hakuto-R mission was unveiled. “In 2040, we hope [to see] more than 10,000 people living on the moon, more than 10,000 people in space. We think we can create such a future.”

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