SANSA Expresses Enthusiasm on Future Lunar Missions Despite Hakuto-R Mission 1 Lander Failed Lunar Landing

Source: iSpace

According to a press release from the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), the agency received disappointing news of iSpace’s inability to establish communication with the Hakuto-R Mission 1 Lander during its intended touchdown on the moon’s surface on April 25, 2023.

SANSA’s Hartebeesthoek ground station was expected to establish direct communication between the Rashid Rover and the ELM Control Centre, located at the United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) facilities in Dubai, as the rover lands on the moon’s surface. This collaboration stems from an earlier agreement signed between the MBRSC and SANSA teams in December 2022 to complete the lunar mission successfully.

Furthermore, the SANSA team was on standby to track and communicate with the Rashid Rover through two antennas – a 12-meter S-band antenna for uplink transmissions and a 26-meter parabolic antenna for downlink transmissions. However, early indications from the iSpace team reported that the lander used up all its fuel before landing and had an engine cut off early, causing the lander to have a hard landing.

According to Eugene Avenant, SANSA’s Chief Engineer, “It is important to temper expectations when it comes to moon missions, as getting to the moon is not easy.” However, he further expressed his enthusiasm for other future missions in the coming years, as the agency has established itself as a world-class provider of telemetry, tracking and mission control services from its Hartebeeshoek ground station and will be expanding its ground station offering with a dedicated deep space ground station in Matjiesfontein in the Western Cape, which will support NASA’s Artemis missions.

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 Lander, with the payload Rashid Rover on board, the first lunar mission by MBRSC, was poised to make history and would have been the first commercial spacecraft to land on the moon’s surface.

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