Japanese Private Landing Module Hakuto-R Enters Lunar Orbit
The Japanese spacecraft Hakuto-R (HTV-R), also known as the «rabbit» module, has successfully entered the lunar orbit on Saturday, November 5th, 2017.
Hakuto-R is a collaborative project between Tokyo-based ispace, Inc. and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The spacecraft is equipped with cameras, sensors, and a deep space radio system to support a variety of research purposes.
Features of the Hakuto-R Module
Hakuto-R is an essential part of Lunar Dream, an exploration mission to land on the lunar surface for the first time in Japan. The spacecraft features the following as part of this mission:
- Lunar Dust Counter: Measures and collects surface dust found on the moon’s surface. The mission will be investigating how dust is redistributed on the lunar surface.
- Laser Altimeter: Utilizes laser pulses to measure the topography of the lunar surface and features progress questions.
- Navigation Camera: Takes images before and after the spacecraft lands on the lunar surface.
- Deep Space Radio System: Establishes communication between JAXA mission specialists and the spacecraft.
Notable Moments from the Mission
The Hakuto-R module lifted off on November 2nd, 2017, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. After five days of traveling at a velocity of 6,000 km/hr, the spacecraft successfully entered the lunar orbit.
With the successful achievement of entering the orbit, JAXA plans to shift the spacecraft next to a parking orbit located 204 km around the moon’s surface. After completing the shift, the module will receive further instructions to travel toward the moon’s surface.
What Lies Ahead
With the successful entrance into the lunar orbit, the mission is now much closer to the mission’s ultimate goal of exploring the lunar surface. The mission, which began in April 2017, will now be one step closer to landing the first Japanese spacecraft on the moon’s surface.
The mission is slated to take several months, and upon completion, it will become the fifth country, following the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and, most recently, India, to have sent a spacecraft to the lunar surface.
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