NASA’s Artemis I mission, set to launch on November 16th, aims to be the agency’s first deep space flight of a capsule built to carry astronauts in a half-century. Under the new program, NASA is preparing for a revival of human-led space exploration, with future deep space plans including building a lunar-orbiting moon base, seeing the first woman and person of color walk on the moon’s surface, and learning how to sustain life there for long periods, all while keeping one eye fixed on the Red Planet some 140 million miles in the distance.
But NASA won’t be the only one attempting a lunar launch this month – a Japanese commercial company called ispace plans to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as early as November 22nd, carrying cargo from several customers and putting two rovers from the Emirati and Japanese space programs on the moon.
This first mission of the Hakuto-R program would be the first successful private delivery of cargo to the lunar surface ever. Both NASA and ispace hope to gain valuable experience and information from their respective missions, with NASA receiving moon dust samples from ispace and ispace looking to demonstrate the viability of commercial missions to the moon.