iSpace, a Japanese company, attempted to conduct a private moon landing but reported that their lunar lander possibly crashed onto the surface. They lost communication with the Hakuto-R craft moments before its landing. The iSpace lander was propelled into space via a SpaceX rocket in December and was intended to release an exploratory rover and a small robot. The mission was not successfully completed, but the company still achieved a remarkable amount by being able to carry out the landing phase and acquire valuable data and experience. The lander was relatively small and compact, weighing 340kg and standing just over 2 meters tall.

The Japanese mission was the first attempt by iSpace to test a series of commercial landers. The company’s vision is to provide commercial services for a continuous human presence on the moon, including sending equipment for extracting lunar resources and producing rocket fuel. According to the firm Rocket Engineering, a successful landing would have represented a “step change” in commercial involvement in space exploration. The United States, Russia, and China are the only countries that have managed to put a robot on the lunar surface, all through government-funded programs. In 2019, Israel’s Beresheet mission made the first private company attempt to land on the moon, but the spacecraft was lost during the landing process.