Japan Space Firm’s Lunar Lander Enters Orbit Around Moon

Courtesy of Ispace Inc.
An image of Ispace Inc.’s lunar lander

Tokyo-based Ispace Inc. said Tuesday that its moon lander had entered orbit around the moon.

With touchdown scheduled for the end of April, the space company’s lander would become the world’s first private sector lunar module to land on the moon.

The vehicle was launched aboard a U.S. rocket in December, then followed a special route to the moon to conserve fuel. In January, the lander flew to a position 1.37 million kilometers from Earth and then headed toward the moon.

The module used jet propulsion to correct its orbit and then entered an elliptical orbit around the moon at an altitude of between 100 and 6,000 kilometers on Tuesday.

The lander is scheduled to descend and land on a crater located in the moon’s northern hemisphere. The crater has a diameter of 87 kilometers.

Ispace sees business opportunities in segments such as lunar resource development and transporting goods. The company aims to test and develop relevant technologies through the latest launch.

The lander is loaded with various items including an exploratory robot developed by toy maker Tomy Co. and a United Arab Emirates space rover.