Japan’s Google Lunar XPrize finalist gets $90m for moon mission

Published On: 13, Dec 2017 | Source: techinasia.com

Photo credit: ISpace.

Japan’s sole entry in the final stretch of Google’s Lunar XPrize got a fresh tankful of rocket fuel today with its announcement of US$90 million in funding.

The series A investment helps the Hakuto moon rover get into space before Google’s March 31, 2018, deadline, as well as build a viable private space business once the madcap contest is over.

Photo credit: ISpace.

Devised by aerospace engineer Takeshi Hakamada, Hakuto needs to be the first of Google’s five finalists to land on the moon, move its rover at least 500 meters, and stream high-definition images in order to win the US$20 million Lunar XPrize. But to remain in contention, the Japanese startup – and the four others in the contest – need to make some kind of launch before the end of the year.

Hakamada’s crew is busy prepping for its December 28 launch, when it’ll hitch a ride aboard a rocket launched by India’s Team Indus, an XPrize rival that has a moon rover of its own.

Gold in them thar hills

After that, the Japanese startup becomes a moon prospecting company – it has planned out a 2019 lunar orbit, which’ll be followed by a longer exploratory moon landing with its rover in 2020 to scan for any lucrative minerals or resources.

Photo credit: ISpace.

Hakamada’s firm, ISpace, describes its mission as “commercializing lunar resource development to extend human presence beyond Earth.” He envisages that by 2040 the moon will be inhabited by 1,000 people, with over 10,000 visitors per year.

A dozen major investors contributed to ISpace’s US$90 million bounty, including Suzuki Motors, Development Bank of Japan, and Japan Airlines.

See: How Japan’s Hakuto is reaching for the moon

India’s moonshot:

India's Team Indus takes on Google's Lunar X competition

Meet the team of Indian engineers and space scientists taking a moonshot at Google Lunar XPRIZE's US$20 million reward.

Posted by Tech in Asia on Friday, 3 November 2017

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