Japanese startup raises $90M to reach moon by 2019

By Ray Downs  |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 12:33 AM
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Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Japan-based ispace, a startup aiming to make lunar expeditions in 2019 and 2020, raised more than $90 million from investors this week, the company announced.

The company said the $90 million is the largest Series A funding in Japanese history and the largest in the the global commercial space sector. Investors in ispace include some of the largest companys in Japan, including Japan Airlines and Konica Minolta.

"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," ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada said.

Other private space exploration companies raised significantly less in their Series A funding round, such as Planetary Resources with $34.78 million and Elon Musk's SpaceX, which raised $12.1 million, CNBC reported.

Ispace has plans far beyond just landing on the moon. The company said the two missions in 2019 and 2020 will be "the starting point to establish the transportation and resource development technology required to support a water-based space economy."

"By adopting an agile development process for designing modular spacecraft, ispace will conduct low-cost, high-frequency and flexible space missions," the company said. "Moreover, ispace's focus on micro-robotics will reduce the overall mission cost to create more opportunities for launch, thereby accelerating research and development activities around the moon."

Ispace predicts the moon will have 1,000 residents by 2040, as well as 10,000 visitors annually.

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