Lunar Traffic Jam – Japan Heads to the Moon

Image (Credit): iSpace mission milestones for the upcoming lunar landing. (iSpace)

While the Orion spacecraft was heading back to Earth, the Japanese HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander was on its way to the Moon. The name HAKUTO refers to the white rabbit that lives on the moon in Japanese folklore.

The Japanese private firm iSpace is behind the lunar mission, becoming the first private company to place a lander on the Moon. The lunar lander’s milestones are shown below, with the landing to occur next April.

Both the mission and payload are multinational. Investors in iSpace include the Development Bank of Japan, Suzuki Motor, Japan Airlines, and Airbus Ventures, which the payload includes items from the U.S. (including a NASA satellite looking for water), Canada, Japan (rover), and the United Arab Emirates (rover).

This should be the first of many iSpace lunar missions, demonstrating the role of commercial parties in the ongoing race back to the Moon.

Image (Credit): Milestones for the AKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander. (iSpace)

Orion Has Returned

Image (Credit): The return on the Orion capsule over the Pacific Ocean on December 11th. (NASA)

The Orion has landed, or splashed down to be more accurate. The Artemis I mission had a successful finish with the Orion capsule parachuting down into the Pacific at 12:40 p.m. EST today. At the time of this posting, the capsule was still afloat in the water while awaiting a review by engineers before being taken aboard the USS Portland.

Now we can start talking about Artemis II.