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How to watch SpaceX launch NASA’s Lunar Flashlight mission in search for water

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 29-11-2022 Science Desk
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SpaceX is targeting the time of 3.39 AM on November 30 (2.09 PM IST) to launch NASA’s Lunar Flashlight mission and the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander designed by private Japanese space tech company Ispace. Here is everything you need to know about the missions aboard and how you can watch the launch.

Watch the SpaceX launch live

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying both payloads is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2.09 PM IST on November 30. The Elon Musk-owned private space company will be streaming the launch live on its YouTube channel. You can watch it in the window below.

Replay Video

NASA’s Lunar Flashlight

The “Lunar Satellite” aboard SpaceX’s M1 mission is a small satellite that is around the size of a briefcase. The launch will put the satellite on a three-month journey that it will take it far past the Moon. After getting there, it will slowly be pulled back by the gravity of the Earth and the Sun before it settles into a science-gathering lunar orbit.

Also read | Space news weekly recap: NASA’s Orion beats record, ISRO launch and more

Once it reaches a lunar orbit, it will swoop low over the Moon’s South Pole where it will use lasers to shed light on dark craters which according to NASA haven’t seen sunlight in billions of years. It is known that water ice exists in the lunar regolith (soil) but scientists do not yet understand whether the floors of these craters are covered by surface ice frost. The Lunar Flashlight will help scientists probe this.

Hakuto-R Mission 1

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander is built by Japanese space tech company Ispace and will be the first privately-led Japanese mission to land on the Moon. This lander is part of Ispace’s lunar exploration program Hakuto-R, which means white rabbit in Japanese according to Bloomberg.

The startup says that it can operate the mission with reduced fuel costs by taking advantage of the Moon’s gravity but according to Bloomberg, this comes with a downside. The mission will take as long as five months to reach the Moon, compared to the few days taken by the Apollo mission which happened in the 1960s and early 1970s.

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