TOKYO – August 22, 2019 – ispace, inc. (“ispace”), a lunar exploration company, announced an adjusted mission schedule for its HAKUTO-R program, a commercial lunar exploration program consisting of the company’s first two lunar missions. The schedule includes a lunar landing in 2021 for Mission 1, and a landing and deployment of a rover for surface exploration in 2023 for Mission 2.
In its initial mission schedule, ispace had planned a technology demonstration mission to send an orbiter around the Moon in 2020 for its first mission. The purpose of the mission was to test in-flight technology; there was no plan to carry customer payloads onboard and the module was not intended to perform a soft landing.
Moving forward, ispace will focus on completing a successful soft-landing mission, carrying customer payloads, by 2021. The decision to adjust the mission schedule is primarily in response to the dramatic market acceleration and increasing demand for lunar exploration around the world, including improving the company’s competitiveness for supporting contracts, such as for NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, and similar opportunities taking form around the world.
NASA, which launched the CLPS program in 2018, selected 9 companies to participate in competitive bids totaling $2.6 billion over the next 10 years to carry scientific instruments to the lunar surface. Among those selected was Draper, an American not-for-profit company with a heritage in space exploration dating to the Apollo Moon landings. The Draper team includes ispace as a design agent and manager of lander mission operations in order to compete in the CLPS bids.
The opportunity to support Draper’s bids for the NASA CLPS program came after ispace’s initial planning to send an orbiter to the Moon by 2020. To increase its competitiveness and guarantee its ability to support NASA’s needs, as well as to meet the several other market demands developing worldwide, ispace decided to shift its resources to realize a successful landing mission in 2021.
As a result of eliminating the demonstration of technology mission (orbiter mission in 2020), it is necessary to mitigate risk and increase reliability for the 2021 landing mission. Additionally, to achieve the small and lightweight lander in this timeframe, it will require more time to overcome various hurdles and optimize structural and propulsion systems.
Moving forward, ispace will address the need for landing gear development within this new timeframe, as well as securing a contract with a ground station to operate the lunar lander from Earth, constructing a mission control center, and producing training and operation plans for the lander mission operations.
In order to maintain a leading role as a lunar development company, swift adaption to market growth and new business opportunities is required. ispace continues to grow and keep pace with the rapidly transforming lunar exploration industry. In August 2019, ispace has expanded to 100 staff across its 3 global offices. In July 2019, the company’s European office was selected by the European Space Agency to be part of the Science Team for PROSPECT, a program which seeks to extract water on the Moon. The company’s HAKUTO-R program has partnered with 6 leading Japanese companies.
■ ispace, inc. https://ispace-inc.com/
ispace, inc. (ispace) is a private lunar exploration company with a vision to extend human presence beyond Earth. The company has 100 staff from 13 different countries; operates in Japan (HQ), the United States and Europe; and has signed partnerships with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Government of Luxembourg. ispace raised nearly $95 million (USD) in Series A funding—the largest on record in Japan and more than almost any other space company in history. ispace also managed Team HAKUTO, one of the 5 finalists in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.
■ HAKUTO-R https://ispace-inc.com/hakuto-r/
HAKUTO-R is the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program. It includes ispace’s first two lunar missions: Mission 1, a soft lunar landing in 2021, and Mission 2, a lunar landing and deployment of a rover for lunar surface exploration in 2023. For both missions, ispace’s lander will be a secondary payload on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The program is intended to lay the groundwork for a high-frequency, low-cost lunar transportation platform.
The ispace / HAKUTO-R Media Room can be accessed here.