Japanese Hakuto-R spacecraft sends a stunning image from the orbit of the Moon

The private Hakuto-R spacecraft took a picture of a sunlit section of the Moon upon arrival in lunar orbit on March 20. The image was taken by a camera mounted on the lander. After receiving the photo on the Earth, the Japanese company ispace posted a stunning picture on Twitter. The image shows a series of brightly lit impact craters on the Moon against a dark background of space. It also shows partially shaded craters on the lunar limb or the edge of the Moon’s visible disk.

Photo of the Moon from the Hakuto-R

Hakuto-R was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX on December 11, 2022. The name “Hakuto” comes from Japanese folklore. This is the name of a white rabbit that lives on the Moon, because 2023 according to the Asian calendar is the year of the Rabbit.

iSpace deliberately chose a long route to the Moon to save fuel. The spacecraft is expected to attempt a safe descent to the Moon’s surface at the end of April, if all goes according to plan. If successful, Japan will become the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the Moon after the United States, the Soviet Union and China. At the same time, if successful, it will be the first ever landing on the Moon of a private spacecraft.

On board the Hakuto-R is a tiny rover “Rashid” from the United Arab Emirates Space Agency. The company is also working on the second and third missions, aimed at launches in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Earlier, India with the Chandrayaan-2 lander and the Israeli company SpaceIL from Bereshit failed in attempts to land on the Moon in 2019.

We also reported on how Hakuto-R showed an amazing photo of the Earth from orbit on its way to the Moon.

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