Japan backs out of becoming the fourth country to land on the moon after its lunar probe goes dark

Lost in space! Japan is giving up on becoming the fourth country to land on the moon after its lunar probe launched aboard Artemis I fell into darkness – the craft’s solar cells faced the sun.

  • Japan’s OMOTENASHI launched Wednesday aboard NASA’s Artemis I mission
  • Ground crew were unable to communicate with the lunar lander shortly after launching into space
  • That’s because the lander’s solar cells were facing the sun and couldn’t be realigned.

The Japan The Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mourns the loss of its first lunar probe after its signal was lost when NasaThe Artemis mission launched it into space on Wednesday evening.

The OMOTENASHI probe was hit by communication failures when it separated from the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket because it was not correctly positioned with the sun. The panels were oriented away from the sun, hampering its ability to recharge its batteries.

Because the team could not establish control, they were forced to abandon plans to land on the surface monday night.

A successful OMOTENASHI landing would have made Japan the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the lunar surface, after the former Soviet Union, the United States and China.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency lost communication with its lunar lander and announced it would not become the fourth country to land on the moon

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency lost communication with its lunar lander and announced it would not become the fourth country to land on the moon

Tatsuaki Hashimoto, who led the project, called the development “deeply regrettable” at a press conference following the decision to scrap the moon landing.

Development costs for the probe were $5.6 million, he said.

OMOTENASHI, short for Outstanding MOon exploration TEchnologies demonstrated by NAno Semi-Hard Impactor, was one of three CubeSats aboard the SLS which launched last week.

The other two, however, separated perfectly and began their missions.

ArgoMoon, built by Italian spaceflight company Argotec, will study the moon, and then there’s NASA’s BioSentinel which houses a biological experiment that will be studied in deep space.

OMOTENASHI measures just four inches by nine inches by one foot and two inches, making it the smallest tuned probe for the moon.

Because the team could not establish control, they were forced to abandon plans to land on the surface on Monday night

Because the team could not establish control, they were forced to abandon plans to land on the surface on Monday night

OMOTENASHI, short for Outstanding MOon exploration TEchnologies demonstrated by NAno Semi-Hard Impactor, was one of three CubeSats aboard the SLS which launched last week

OMOTENASHI, short for Outstanding MOon exploration TEchnologies demonstrated by NAno Semi-Hard Impactor, was one of three CubeSats aboard the SLS which launched last week

Its main purpose was to test trajectory technologies and maneuvers that allow a small lander to land on the moon while keeping its systems – including power, communications and propulsion systems – intact.

And the probe was about to launch Japan’s mission to build a lunar habitat for its astronauts.

JAXA shared the death of its probe on Twitter: ‘For ham lovers, and everywhere: Although we tried to recover OMOTENASHI and begin landing sequences today, communication did not return, and we abandoned our UHF operation on the landing phase. Thank you for the excellent cooperation from everyone.

OMOTENASHI parted ways with SLS about four hours after launching the world’s most powerful rocket last Wednesday when Artemis I finally lifted off after several mechanical and weather delays.

NASA's SLS launched in the early hours of Wednesday morning, sending the Orion capsule on its 25-day mission to circle the moon and return to Earth

NASA’s SLS launched in the early hours of Wednesday morning, sending the Orion capsule on its 25-day mission to circle the moon and return to Earth

The probe left the rocket safely, but its solar cells failed because its body moved away from the sun once every four to five seconds, which is eight times faster than the supposed limit.

JAXA said it could not wait for the solar cells to recover by Tuesday or they would have lost the opportunity to land on the moon.

The agency set up a special team to investigate the failure.

Hashimoto also said the probe’s solar panels will face the sun in March 2023, leaving the possibility of reconnecting with it.

NASA’s SLS launched in the early hours of Wednesday morning, sending the Orion capsule on its 25-day mission to circle the moon and return to Earth.

This historic launch marks the first step in the US space agency’s goal of bringing people back to the lunar surface for the first time in half a century.

If successful, the mission will be followed by a human journey around the moon in 2024 and could lead to the first woman and first person of color to follow in Neil Armstrong’s footsteps the following year.

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