Japanese Robotics Company Raises a Staggering $90 Million for Lunar Exploration

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How much was raised?

Earlier this month (Dec. 12), ispace surprised the space community by raising $90.2 Million USD for a series of robotic missions to the moon. This is one of the largest Series A funding rounds that has ever been raised in Japan, and the one largest for any emerging space venture. The funding will be used to develop two missions by the end of 2020 to orbit and land on the moon.

Founder and Chief Executive of ispace, Takeshi Hakamada, relates “We wanted to make sure that our financing for the next two missions was in place. Through these two missions, we’re going to validate our technology to land on the moon safely. After we validate the technology, we’re going to enter the lunar transportation business.”

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What are these missions?

The first mission, planned for 2019 Q4, aims to develop a lander system and launch it into a lunar orbit. This mission’s goal is oriented just to observe the lunar surface. The second mission, expected by the end of 2020, will attempt to land on the surface of the moon and deploy a small number of rovers.

After two key developmental milestones (PDR & CDR) in 2018, ispace could possibly launch from SpaceX Falcon 9. The Japanese company is in discussion to see if this can be done as a secondary payload to this launch vehicle.

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Outlook and future business model…

The success of these two missions can spark an interesting business model for ispace. If successful, the company plans to offer a series of lander missions to the moon capable of carrying up to 30kg of customer payload per flight. “We are going to establish a transportation business to the moon,” he said. “One key concept is regular, scheduled transportation to the moon.” He notes, such missions could fly on a monthly frequency depending on customer demand.

Lastly, he states “if we can successfully demonstrate our technologies through these first two missions, we don’t need to raise additional funding.” Sounds ambitious, but then again, which space company isn’t!

For more information, please visit: https://ispace-inc.com/