In their latest round of funding, Japanese lunar exploration startup, ispace, inc. has raised $90.2 million in Series A funding. The figure is not only the largest ever raised in Japan, it is also to date the largest Series A funding raised by a commercial space startup globally. The funding will be used to develop a small lunar lander which will be part of two lunar missions the company hopes to launch by late 2019.
“With this funding, ispace will begin the development of lunar lander to establish a flexible and regular lunar transportation system, and lead the exploration and development of lunar surface through micro-robotic systems,” says Founder & CEO of ispace, Takeshi Hakamada.
Once developed, ispace hope to launch their lander as early as the fourth quarter of 2019. Once in a lunar orbit, the spacecraft will conduct observations and studies of the lunar surface. Towards the end of 2020, the lander will attempt a soft landing on the surface of the Moon.
Once on the surface, the lander will deploy two lunar exploration rovers to conduct scientific research to gather data. Each rover will have the capacity for 5kgs in payloads. A portion of each rover’s payload capacity will be sold to interested national agencies, commercial enterprises and research facilities.
In addition to developing exploratory satellites, landers and rovers, ispace are hoping to be at the forefront of the commercial Lunar landscape. The company has been vocal about their predictions that by 2040, “the Moon would be inhabited by 1,000 people, with over 10,000 visitors every year.”
A fun video (above) published to the company’s YouTube channel earlier this month shows how various industries could develop on the surface of the Moon to support a variety of commercial enterprises. The timeline, however, seems to be more than a little ambitious.
Image Credit: ispace