ispace Inc., a Tokyo-based space start-up, announced that it has secured US$ 28M (¥3 billion) from Japanese investors to fund its first mission to the moon.
The funds raised in the Series B round bring the cumulative total amount raised by the start-up to US$ 125M, including its Series A round that closed at approximately US$ 95M. The round was led by an investment vehicle managed by Incubate Fund. Space Frontier Fund, Takasago Thermal Engineering Co. and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. also participated in the round.
The investment will be utilised towards the development of the company’s commercial lunar lander for its first mission in 2022 and second mission 2023 planned to launch. In addition, it will also increase the size of its lander for its third mission and beyond.
On July 30, ispace revealed the Hakuto-Reboot (Hakuto-R) lander’s design. It announced that the mission is slated to touch down on the moon in 2022. However, unspecified technical issues have held up construction in recent months even though the lander passed a critical design review allowing for the hardware to be finalized for construction. The lander is planned to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
About Blueprint Moon
ispace has also launched a planned data-centric platform known as “Blueprint Moon.” The company aims to support customers with lunar market entry. Its vision is to collect lunar data (imaging, environmental data, telemetry, resources information) and apply it to tools and applications. This can be provided as a service to government space agencies, universities, research institutions, and private companies for mission planning and lunar surface development. Using publicly available data from government space agencies as a basis for this platform, it has already begun to develop tools.
This new lunar data business concept anticipates increased activity and permanent human presence on the moon in the coming years, which ispace believes could generate economic activity. Blueprint Moon is aimed at enabling ispace to help companies to design and deliver their business to the moon. Ispace expects this new business and its existing payload business to be important earnings drivers.
About the investors
One of Japan’s leading venture capital funds, Incubate Fund has been supporting ispace with investments from the company’s seed stage.
Additionally, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Takasago Thermal Engineering are corporate partners of the company’s Hakuto-R program. Takasago Thermal Engineering plans to test its water electrolysis technology on the moon. Furthermore, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance is designing lunar insurance to support future business risks on the moon.
Statements from ispace and the investors
Takeshi Hakamada, Founder & CEO of ispace:
“This new investment and launch of our new lunar data offering concept will not only support the steady development of ispace’s business, but will also prove that ispace can lead globally in the development of the lunar economy, expanding humanity’s presence into space and creating a more sustainable world.”
Toru Akaura, Managing Partner, Incubate Fund:
“Since we first met ispace in 2014, we have been confident they will be a leader in the next generation of the space industry. We will continue to support them with all of our might.”
Shinichiro Kengaku, President of General Partner, Space Frontier Fund:
“We have high hopes and expectations for ispace’s future as a leading New Space company that will open up the next frontier for humankind.”
Kazuhito Kojima, President & COO, Takasago Thermal Engineering Co., Ltd.:
“Takasago Thermal Engineering and ispace are like-minded partners, respecting each other’s people, technology, and culture. Based on heat utilization and water electrolysis technologies, we will share our knowledge with ispace to develop lunar resources at scale.”
Isao Nojo, Senior Executive Officer, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd.:
“In addition to our participation as a HAKUTO-R corporate partner, as well as our support for the company through the creation of our Moon Insurance program, we have decided to provide strong capital support to ispace, as we are committed to supporting ispace’s ambitious and unlimited potential in its quest to create a sustainable world through the effective use of lunar resources.”