Did Rashid Rover Land on the Moon After a 135-Days Journey?
It is believed that the Japanese spacecraft transporting the UAE's Rashid Rover to the Moon made a harsh landing. Nearly eight hours after the intended time of touchdown, Japan-based ispace announced in an update regarding the status of its HAKUTO-R Mission 1 (M1) that they could not establish communication between the lander and the mission control center (MCC). The seven-foot M1 had started the landing procedure from a 100-mile orbit. An animation created using real-time telemetry data revealed the landing was virtually complete when flight engineers lost contact with the M1 at the scheduled touchdown time.
The control center in Tokyo certified that the lander was in a vertical posture as it made its final approach to the lunar surface based on the data that is now available. A little after the anticipated landing time, no data indicated a touchdown was received. When the lower threshold was reached, the estimated amount of remaining propellant was checked, and shortly after that, the descent speed increased quickly. The breakdown in communication then occurred. According to the corporation, this led to the conclusion that there is a high likelihood that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the Moon's surface. Let’s look into what the space scientist say about the journey of the spacecraft:
ispace engineers are currently working on a detailed analysis of the telemetry data acquired until the end of the landing sequence to find the root cause of the situation.
"By successfully completing the landing phase, we believe that we have fully achieved the significance of this mission and have gathered a significant amount of data and experience. Making the most of this experience will depend on how we use this information and what we have learned about Mission 2 and subsequent missions. The company's M2 lunar landing mission is set to launch in 2024. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) chief, Hiroshi Yamakawa, claims that ispace is now the first commercial business to make an attempt to land on the moon. ispace will evaluate the data from this mission and use it as a basis for the mission after that. The corporation would have been the first private company to pull off a lunar landing if it had been successful. Only the US, the former Soviet Union, and China have made soft Moon landings with their spacecraft. India and a private Israeli enterprise attempted in recent years but failed.
On December 11 of last year, the M1 launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Instead of a straight approach, it adopted a low-energy, four-month route to the Moon. On a broad course meant to minimize the fuel the spaceship needs to carry, it traveled to the edge of deep space and back.
What ispace Says?
With a despondent expression, ispace founder Hakamada explained the situation and stated that their engineers are still looking into it. As the minutes passed with no word from the lander, controllers in Tokyo stared blankly at their displays.
According to Hakamada, they haven't verified communication with the lander as of yet. They can attest that up until the very end of the landing, we were in communication. However, they are no longer in contact. Therefore, they must presume that we were unable to accomplish the lunar surface landing. The engineers are still looking into the matter.
No Contact with Land
Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace, says, ”Japan-based ispace has lost contact with its lander carrying the UAE's Rashid Rover. We have to assume that we could not complete the landing. However, we are continuing to investigate. Flight controllers peered at their screens in Tokyo, expressionless, as the minutes went by with still no word from the lander.”
Do Space Missions have a Success Rate of only 50 Percent?
It's no easy task to land a rover on the moon. Gravity, the absence of atmosphere, regolith, and communication difficulties are just a few of the factors that make it a very difficult undertaking. In fact, only 50 percent of lunar landing attempts are successful.
Here are some factors that make these missions extra challenging:
- Gravity on the moon is around one-sixth that of Earth, making landing and maneuvering the spacecraft challenging.
- It's challenging to slow down the spaceship during descent on the moon because there isn't any atmosphere there.
- Regolith, a thin layer of fine dust that covers the moon's surface, can reach depths of several meters in some places. The spacecraft's engines and landing gear may be at risk from this dust, which can be challenging to navigate.
- Communication with the spacecraft during the landing procedure is another difficulty. There is a communication delay since it takes the signal 1.28 seconds to get from the moon to Earth. It may be challenging to alter the spacecraft's course in real-time throughout the landing procedure due to this delay.
Why did Rashid Rover Take over 135 days to Reach the Moon?
It is common knowledge now that the ELM is taking a low-energy route to the moon. The rover is entirely solar-powered and equipped with four cameras, including a microscopic and thermal one. Assisted by the Sun's gravity, it will reach a distance of 963,000 miles (1.54 million km) from Earth — more than three times the distance between Earth and the Moon — before being pulled back towards the Earth-Moon system.
This clearly indicates that the spaceship adopted a novel method of space propulsion, relying on the Sun's gravitational pull to propel itself farther into space rather than employing engines to consume additional propellant. Then, in contrast to conventional direct transfers, which generally take three to six days, it sped up toward the Moon by using the gravitational pull of the Earth.
By using the Sun's gravitational pull to propel itself deeper into space rather than using engines to waste additional propellant, the spaceship effectively used a novel method of space travel. Then, in contrast to conventional direct transfers, which generally take three to six days, it used the gravitational pull of the Earth to slingshot itself toward the Moon. In the meantime, the Hakuto-R lander, developed by the Japanese lunar exploration company ispace, is carrying the rover. The eighth Success of the Mission 1 Milestones has been achieved.