Published in Transportation

Japanese moon spaceship software confused by crater

by on29 May 2023

Apparently it did not expect them on the moon

A post-mortem into the crash of the first private spaceship to land on the moon has found that the software was to blame.

Last month Japanese startup ispace tried to become the first private company to land a spacecraft on the moon — but in the crucial final moments, lost contact with its vehicle.

Apparently, while trying to land, the spaceship went into free-fall from five kilometers up and created a new crater on the moon.

It was all down to a last-minute decision to the touchdown location to a crater. The crater's steep sides confused the onboard software because it did not really expect them to be there.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed the crash site the next day as it flew overhead, revealing a field of debris and lunar soil hurled aside by the impact. Computer simulations done before the landing attempt did not incorporate the terrain of the new landing site, Ujiie said.

CEO and founder Takeshi Hakamada said the company is still on track to attempt another moon landing in 2024, and that all the lessons learned will be incorporated into the next try. A third landing attempt is planned for 2025.


Last modified on 29 May 2023
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