You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

SpaceX delays launch of Japanese moon lander again, citing rocket issues

Space logo Space 12/1/2022 Mike Wall
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket topped with the private Japanese Hakuto-R moon lander stands on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The rocket was supposed to launch on Dec. 1, 2022, but SpaceX is standing down to perform more checks on the rocket. © SpaceX via Twitter A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket topped with the private Japanese Hakuto-R moon lander stands on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The rocket was supposed to launch on Dec. 1, 2022, but SpaceX is standing down to perform more checks on the rocket.

SpaceX just stood down again from the launch of a Japanese moon lander.

The Hakuto-R lander, which was built by Tokyo-based company ispace, and NASA's Lunar Flashlight cubesat were scheduled to launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday (Dec. 1) at 3:37 a.m. EST (0837 GMT). But that's no longer the plan.

"After further inspections of the launch vehicle and data review, we're standing down from tomorrow's launch of @ispace_inc's HAKUTO-R Mission 1; a new target launch date will be shared once confirmed," SpaceX announced via Twitter on Wednesday evening.

Related: Japanese ispace lander to carry UAE moon rover to lunar surface in 2022 

It was the second such delay for the mission: It was originally supposed to launch early Wednesday (Nov. 30), but SpaceX pushed things back a day "to allow for additional pre-flight checkouts."

The Falcon 9 slated to launch ispace's Mission 1 is a veteran of four previous flights. Its first stage previously helped loft the SES-22 communications satellite this past June and three batches of SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites, company representatives wrote in a description of the upcoming moon mission.

Mission 1 is a test flight for ispace, which wants to see how Hakuto-R performs in deep space and on the lunar surface. 

After liftoff, the lander will embark on a roughly four-month journey to the moon. If Hakuto-R aces its touchdown on Earth's nearest neighbor, it will make history; to date, only the space agencies of the United States, China and the Soviet Union have achieved soft landings on the lunar surface.

A successful touchdown will also allow the United Arab Emirates to make some history of its own; the nation's first moon rover, a 22-pound (10 kilograms) robot named Rashid, will deploy from Hakuto-R and study its environs for about 14 Earth days, if all goes according to plan.

NASA has a stake in the upcoming flight as well. The agency's briefcase-sized Lunar Flashlight is designed to hunt for water ice near the moon's south pole, where NASA plans to build a moon base via its Artemis program.

The cubesat will do its work from lunar orbit, which it will reach after a roughly three-month journey through deep space.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Space

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon