On Wednesday, Japanese company Ipace’s attempt to launch the world’s first private lunar lander was put on hold by SpaceX.
At 3:37 a.m. (08:37 GMT) on Thursday, a Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to launch from Cape Canaveral in the state of Florida. However, SpaceX said that additional checks on the vehicle had caused the launch to be delayed.
“We’re withdrawing from tomorrow’s launch of @ispace_inc’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1 after further inspections of the launch vehicle and data review; “Once confirmed, a new target launch date will be shared,” the company tweeted.
Only the United States, Russia, and China have been successful in landing a robot on the lunar surface so far.
According to a company statement, the IS pace mission is the first of a program called Hakuto-R. The lander would land in the Atlas crater on the visible side of the Moon around April 2023.
SpaceX and ispace announced on Wednesday that the launch had already been delayed by a day due to the need for additional pre-flight checks.
The United Arab Emirates-built 10-kilogram Rashid rover is on board the lander, which measures just over 2 by 2.5 meters.
Although the oil-rich nation is new to the space race, recent accomplishments include sending a probe into Mars’ orbit last year. Rashid will be the first Arab-led mission to the Moon if it succeeds.
Takeshi Hakamada, CEO of ispace, stated, “We have achieved so much in the six short years since we first began conceptualizing this project in 2016.”
Hakuto was one of five finalists in the international Google Lunar XPrize competition, which had a deadline of 2018 and required a rover to be on the Moon by that time. There was no winner. However, there are still some projects in progress.
In April 2019, another finalist from the Israeli organization SpaceIL crashed into the ground while attempting to land, preventing it from becoming the first privately funded mission to do so.
With just 200 employees, ispace claims to “provide high-frequency, low-cost transportation services to the Moon” with the “aims to extend the sphere of human life into space and create a sustainable world.”