Loss of ispace lunar lander

It was a sad day on April 25th as controllers lost contact with HAKUTO-R M1, the lunar lander developed by the Japanese company ispace. 80 meters above its chosen site, near the Atlas Crater, the telemetry from the spacecraft cut and was replaced by simulation data. This was 30 seconds before touchdown and at a velocity of around 30 km/h. Initial hope was that communication could be established post touchdown and HAKUTO-R would be safely on the ground.

Six hours later the company, ispace, came out with a statement discussing the initial investigation. Telemetry data from the lander showed the propellant in the tanks reached the lower limit and the velocity of the descent increased. This points to the engines reaching starvation of fuel and the lander smashing into the ground. At this point, the company determined with high probability that the landing phase of the mission was a failure.

The significance of this mission is still quite immense. The lander carried cargo of both commercial companies and state governments and would have put the rover on the short list for entities that have landed craft on the moon.

This incident was most likely due to calculation error, the fault lies with the engineers who developed the mission. That being said, this incident highlights the importance of cybersecurity. Important milestone events need critical data from the systems to successful pull of these autonomous maneuvers. Highly visible failures on these missions could discourage future endeavors by this company and others. A failure for a commercial company could have profound effects on the future outlook, therefore driving stock prices or cutting reliable outside funding. With the landing site being effectively remote, no intensive investigation can be carried out on the hardware or software and assumptions have to be made. It would be very easy for disruptions to the systems to be hidden.