Japanese Company ispace Says Its New 'Moon Valley' Ecosystem Could Save Earth
When Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, it was a dark, cold, inhospitable wasteland where one technical malfunction could mean instant death. That was why the Nixon administration had a speech all ready to go in case he and Buzz Aldrin died in some unforeseen but terrible way, hundreds of thousands of miles from home. Now, a little less than 50 years later, humanity is preparing to return to the Moon with the goal of keeping Earth alive. At least, that's how Japanese company ispace sees it.
Ispace imagines "[a] world where the Earth and Moon are one ecosystem," and says that without the resources of the Moon, life on Earth will become unsustainable.
According to their website:
"By taking advantage of lunar water resources, we can develop the space infrastructure needed to enrich our daily lives on earth—as well as expand our living sphere into space. Also, by making the Earth and Moon one system, a new economy with space infrastructure at its core will support human life, making sustainability a reality. This result is our ultimate goal, and our search for water on the Moon is the first step to achieving that goal."
Ispace plans to launch a series of privately funded missions to the Moon, including an orbiter and a lander to help prepare for the arrival of rovers that will search the Moon for water reserves and the eventual establishment of an "an industrial platform for steady lunar development," a multi-purpose human colony on the Moon.
The backbone of this colony will be ispace's 8.3-pound carbon-fiber rovers, which can be loaded with tools supplied by other companies that will allow them to carry out a variety of tasks, including collecting material and searching the lunar surface for resources.
So far, ispace has raised $90 million in first-round funding and plans to launch its first mission to the Moon in 2019. If the company stays on schedule, we could see the groundwork being laid for their lunar colony as early as 2022.