Ispace’s robotic Mission 1 spacecraft likely crashed on Tuesday as it made its way to the moon’s surface. It was a setback for Japan’s private aerospace company and a total loss of several valuable payloads for customers trying to reach the moon.
Two countries – Japan and the United Arab Emirates – would lose what would have been their respective countries’ first robotic explorer on the lunar service.
JAXA, a Japanese space agency, planned to test a two-wheeled transformable lunar robot, a small sphere with cameras for surface observations. The data from the device would have been used to design a crewed, pressurized rover, which would enable transportation on the lunar surface during future astronaut missions.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates’ increasingly active space program, sent Rashid, a small rover, to explore the landing site. The rover was set to “study lunar soil properties, lunar geology, dust movement and the surface plasma environment,” according to NASA.
It was the first Arab-built lunar spacecraft to be launched into space, and contained materials that would have made it “the very first European technology to make contact with the surface of the moon,” the European Space Agency said in a press release.
Other payloads included a solid-state battery test module from Japan’s NGK Spark Plug Company, an artificial intelligence flight computer, and 360-degree cameras from Canadian aerospace contractor Canadensys Aerospace.