SpaceX launches the Falcon 9 with its robotic lunar launcher, Ice Seeker

SpaceX launches the Falcon 9 with its robotic lunar launcher, Ice Seeker

December 11 (UPI) – SpaceX Sunday morning, a Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral carrying a commercial payload to the Moon, a Japanese robotic lander and a NASA spacecraft to search for signs of water on craters at the poles.

The The missile launched From Launchpad 40 at 2:38.13 a.m. EDT. The original launch date was pushed back 11 days earlier to solve an unspecified problem with the rocket.

The final Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the last Apollo moon landing in 1972 and 10 hours before NASA’s uncrewed Orion lunar spacecraft lifted off into the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California.

Tokyo-based ispace, builder of the Hakuto-R lunar lander, is seeking to develop commercial operations on the lunar surface.

The Moon is 238,900 miles from Earth.

The reusable booster, designated B1073, flew to Cape Canaveral for a successful landing in Landing Zone 2, one of SpaceX’s beachfront rocket recovery platforms 6 miles south of the Falcon 9 launch pad. This was the booster’s fifth flight into space.

Eight minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 upper stage placed the Hakuto-R and Lunar Flashlight payloads into low-altitude orbit.

40 minutes later, with the rocket over Africa, the launch upper stage was re-ignited for about a minute to propel the payloads to escape Earth’s gravity and head into deep space.

47 minutes later, the Hakuto-R spacecraft first deployed from the rocket. Six minutes later, NASA’s Lunar Flashlight spacecraft fanned out.

ground team in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory He confirmed that the first signals from the spacecraft going to the moon had been received.

About a day into the mission, the probe will fire its main engine. More engine burn incidents are scheduled during the Hakuto-R’s 4 1/2 month lunar landing.

The Hakuto-R and Lunar Flashlight spacecraft will travel a million miles from Earth over a three-month period, far from the Moon. After orbiting the moon, the Hakuto-R lander will fire its main engine to descend to the lunar surface in the northern hemisphere.

NASA’s Lunar Flashlight, about the size of a briefcase, will orbit in an elliptical orbit that will travel from 43,000 miles from the surface to just 9 miles at closest approach. Ice will absorb the laser light while rocks and soil will reflect and scatter.

Previous satellite observations have revealed chemical signatures that could indicate the presence of ice, which can be broken down into oxygen and hydrogen. This would allow the manufacture of rocket fuel, air and water on the moon.

“We’re bringing a flashlight to the Moon, shining lasers into these dark craters to look for final signs of water ice covering the top layer of the lunar regolith,” principal investigator Barbara Cohen said in a report. NASA version. “I am excited to see our mission contribute to our scientific understanding of where water ice is on the Moon and how it got there.”

The first Hakuto-R lander, called Mission 1 by ispace, will carry about 24 pounds of customer payloads to the lunar surface, including a UAE rover developed by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.

There is also an animatronic robot developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Japanese toy company Tomy.

The first Hakuto-R lander weighed about 2,200 pounds that was fueled for launch.

“It is an honor to become the first launch and first (privately funded) landing on the moon,” said Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace. Interview with CBS News. “However, this is not our goal. Our goal is to create a sustainable ecosystem.

“We need at least several competitors in this market. Otherwise, there is no incentive to grow this industry. So I’m very happy to have other competitors … and grow this industry with them.”

Falcon 9 It is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket. She had 188 total launches, 146 touchdowns and 125 returns.

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