Japanese startup ispace inc is set to make history by landing its Hakuto-R Mission 1 spacecraft on the moon on Wednesday, becoming the first private company to achieve the feat.
The M1 lander is scheduled to touch down at around 1:40 a.m. Japan time, following its launch from Cape Canaveral in December.
Success would mark a significant achievement for Japan, which has faced recent setbacks in space technology despite having ambitions to build a domestic industry and send Japanese astronauts to the moon.
The 2.3-meter-tall M1 will attempt to land at the edge of Mare Frigoris in the moon’s northern hemisphere, deploying a two-wheeled rover developed by Japanese toymaker Tomy Co, Sony Group, JAXA, and the United Arab Emirates’ four-wheeled “Rashid” Rover.
The mission will also test an experimental solid-state battery made by NGK Spark Plug Co.
In 2024, ispace’s own rover will be sent to the moon, with plans to collaborate with U.S. space lab Draper and bring NASA payloads to build a permanently staffed lunar colony by 2040.