A private moon lander will make history when it touches down today. Here's how to watch it live

A Japanese company will attempt the first successful private landing on the moon, and you can watch the whole thing live.

Should Hakuto-R make it, the lander will be the first privately operated spacecraft to land safely on the moon. ispace plans to place the Hakuto-R lander on the moon on Tuesday (April 25) at 12:40 p.m. EDT (1640 GMT). You can watch the whole thing live here at Space.com, via ispace, starting at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).

The primary landing site is Atlas Crater, located at the southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris ("Sea of Cold"), according to earlier statements from the company.

"Should conditions change, there are three alternative landing sites and depending on the site, the landing date may change. Alternative landing dates, depending on the operational status, are April 26, May 1 and May 3, 2023," ispace officials wrote on April 12.

Related: Private Japanese moon lander reaches lunar orbit

The Hakuto-R spacecraft launched in December 2022 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and is in a roughly circular orbit some 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface. The spacecraft has sent numerous incredible images from orbit already.

One image beamed home by Hakuto-R captured a stunning Earthrise that occurred at the same time as last week's hybrid solar eclipse. In the photo, the shadow of the moon can be seen as it moves across the face of the Earth in the South Pacific.

The landing sequence will include several steps, ispace officials wrote. "The lander will perform a braking burn, firing its main propulsion system to decelerate from orbit. Utilizing a series of pre-set commands, the lander will adjust its attitude and reduce velocity in order to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. The process will take approximately one hour."

The planned landing sequence of the ispace Hakuto-R lunar lander. (Image credit: ispace)

Also on board the mission are the mini Rashid rover for the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) space agency, an artificial intelligence system from Canadian company Mission Control and a multi-camera imaging system by Canadian company Canadensys Aerospace. 

UAE's first long-duration astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi posted a message to Twitter on Monday (April 24) from the International Space Station, wishing the mission success as it approaches its historic landing attempt.

Only three other countries have soft landed on the moon before: The United States, the Soviet Union and China.

ispace has big growth plans, too. It was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Growth Market on April 12 and is planning second and third moon missions no earlier than 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace

    Please stop using the very misleading term "Earthrise". The Moon is tidally locked with the Earth. This means that the Earth never "rises" on the Moon the way that the Moon or Sun "rise" on Earth. Were you to be on the side of the Moon that faces the Earth, you would see our planet hanging eternally in the same spot all the time (except for a slight wobble, due to precession).

    The only way to simulate the Earth "rising" is the orbit the Moon, as in the case of Bill Anders iconic photography during Apollo 8.

    But to use the term "Earthrise" is to mislead your readers about what really would happen if you were lucky enough to be standing on the surface of the Moon.