OMOTENASHI Lunar Lander Deployed By NASA’s Artemis I Mission Dies

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OMOTENASHI Lunar Lander Deployed By NASA’s Artemis I Mission Dies
Photo Credit: NASA

NASA and space enthusiasts are hit with bad news regarding the recently launched Artemis I Moon mission. The Artemis I mission spacecraft released a Japanese CubeSat named OMOTENASHI (Outstanding MOon exploration TEchnologies demonstrated by NAno Semi-Hard Impactor) but the lander died.

 

"Though we tried to recover OMOTENASHI and start the landing sequences today, the communication didn't come back, and we gave up our [Ultra-High Frequency] operation on the landing phase," the OMOTENASHI Project’s official Twitter account posted. "Thank you for the excellent cooperation from everyone."

Japan’s Dream Shattered

If the lander had managed to make its way to the lunar surface, it would have been Japan’s first spacecraft to touchdown on the Moon. It would have been a huge milestone for the country, but unfortunately, it will have to wait a bit longer to see that happening.

OMOTENASHI was among the three CubeSats that were launched aboard the Artemis I mission. The other two -- ArgoMoon, developed by Argotec, an Italian spacecraft firm, and NASA’s CubeSat-slash-biolab BioSentinel, are currently in optimum condition and well on their way to accomplishing their missions.

JAXA’s payload, however, was the only one designed to perform a controlled landing on the Moon. Scientists were hopeful that by deploying OMOTENASHI on the lunar surface, they would be able to understand small craft landings, something very important for space tourism’s future.

The landing would have helped space companies build smaller crafts that can ferry passengers and make commercial missions affordable. But it seems the world will have to wait a little longer.

Things Didn’t Go As Planned

"Its primary objective," the NASA blog published in July 2021 reads, "is to test the technologies and trajectory maneuvers that allow a small lander to land on the Moon while keeping its systems — including power, communication, and propulsion systems — intact."

Sadly, things did not go as the space agency had planned, and the small Japanese craft, which weighed around 30 pounds, suffered a tragic fate. And while it’s better to see the small craft fail rather than NASA’s massive and uber-expensive Space Launch System (SLS), It’s pretty sad for scientists and engineers who worked on the lander.

Japan would have become only the fourth nation in the world to land a craft on the lunar surface. While you can’t win all the battles, this loss would be a tough pill to swallow for the Japanese space agency JAXA.

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