Japanese company loses contact with moon lander in likely crash

A Japanese company has lost contact with its spacecraft moments before touchdown on the moon, saying the mission had apparently failed.

“We lost the communication, so we have to assume that we could not complete the landing on the lunar surface,” ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada said on a company livestream on Tuesday, as mission control engineers in Tokyo continued to try to regain contact with the lander.The M1 lander appeared set to touch down around 12:40 pm Eastern time (16:40 GMT Tuesday) after coming as close as 90m (295 feet) to the lunar surface, a live animation of the lander’s telemetry showed.

Communications then ceased as the lander descended the final 10m (33 feet), traveling around 25 km/h (16 mph). Flight controllers peered at their screens in Tokyo, expressionless, as the minutes went by with no word from the lander, which is presumed to have crashed.

The spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in the US on a SpaceX rocket in December and has completed several mission objectives leading up to its landing attempt.

If it had landed, the company would have been the first private business to pull off a lunar landing.

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