If the robotic Mission 1 spacecraft from Ispace was indeed lost as it headed toward the moon’s surface on Tuesday, it would be a setback for the private Japanese space company as well as a total loss of several valuable payloads for customers that were 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, intended 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 help design a crewed, pressurized rover, which would allow for transportation on the lunar surface during future astronaut mission.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai, part of the increasingly active space program of the United Arab Emirates, sent Rashid, a small rover that was to explore the landing site. The rover was set to “study properties of lunar soil, the geology of the Moon, dust movement and the surface plasma environment,” according to NASA.
It was the first Arab-built lunar spacecraft launched into space, and included 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 news release.
Other payloads included a test module for a solid-state battery from NGK Spark Plug Company of Japan, an artificial intelligence flight computer and 360-degree cameras from Canadensys Aerospace, a Canadian aerospace contractor.