This Japanese Startup Just Raised $90 Million to Reach the Moon

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 - 11:10AM
Moon
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 - 11:10AM
This Japanese Startup Just Raised $90 Million to Reach the Moon
Image credit: iSpace
Move over United States, Russia, and China. A Japanese startup has its sights set on reaching the Moon by 2020, but they are doing it independently of their country's official space program.

Tokyo-based startup ispace turned some heads recently when it managed to raise $90 million (10.2 billion yen) from major Japanese corporations and private investors to fund a mission to send a spacecraft into orbit in late 2019 and have it land on the Moon the following year. 

The money that ispace raised has set a new record in Japan for what is considered "Series A" funding, which is the money received by a business after the seeding phase. 

"With this funding, ispace will begin the development of a lunar lander to establish a flexible and regular lunar transportation system, and lead the exploration and development of the lunar surface through micro-robotic systems," CEO Takeshi Hakamada told Space.com.

"We're going to bring scientific instruments to the moon," Hakamada told CNBC, "and then sell the right to use our data to space agencies and other institutions, as well as provide transportation services, for profit."

The following video from 2016 further explains ispace's vision and its plan to reach the moon and make use of its resources. There are animations and subtitles to match the English narrative track, just for those who don't speak Japanese and couldn't follow along with the original version.



Ispace will deploy multiple rovers once its relatively small lander (with a payload capacity of 66 lbs) reaches the moon.

The startup predicts that by 2021, 1,000 people will be living on the Moon, and with their help, 10 times as many will visit each year.

"With the network and knowledge of our new shareholders, we will not only expand commercial space activities centered around lunar resources, but also create a sustainable living sphere beyond Earth," Hakamada said.

Ispace is also currently involved in Google's Lunar XPRIZE competition, which will award $30 million to the first team to reach the moon, travel 500 meters across its surface, and take photos.

"Our investment is not for the Google Lunar XPRIZE," said Hakamada. "Our ultimate goal is resource utilization on the moon, primarily water resources."
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This Japanese Startup Just Raised $90 Million to Reach the Moon
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