ispace, a Japanese lunar lander developer, raised $46 million in a new investment round on August 4 to support future lunar missions. The $46 million Series C financing was headed by the Japanese venture capital fund, Incubate Fund, according to Tokyo-based ispace. Since ispace’s seed round in 2014, Incubate Fund has been an investor. With this current round, ispace has now raised a total of $195.5 million.
The investment comes after the company received $28 million in the Series B round over a year ago. That earlier round secured enough cash for the company’s first lander mission, Mission 1, which is set to fly in 2022. The Series C financing will be used to fund work on ispace’s future missions. Mission 2, which will use a lander comparable to Mission 1, will deploy in the year 2023, while Mission 3, which will use a larger lander created in the company’s U.S. headquarters, will launch in 2024.
Takeshi Hakamada, ispace’s founder and CEO, stated in a statement, “We are very thankful to our shareholders for supporting ispace’s development of a lunar transportation platform which has a high-frequency.” “A growing number of stakeholders from the growth and investment side are entering this ecosystem.”
The Mission 1 lander’s construction began in July at the ArianeGroup site in Germany. After announcing a deal with JAXA, a Japanese space agency, to fly a tiny “transformable lunar robot” built by the agency, Hakamada claimed that the mission’s payload was complete in May. A lunar rover dubbed Rashid, built by the UAE’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, and cameras from Canadensys are among the other payloads on the lander. The Mission 1 lander is set to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the second part of 2022.
The firm is also a member of a group attempting to sway Japanese space policy. On July 13, the Lunar Industry Vision Council released a study with proposals for the Japanese government to boost lunar business operations. The paper called for a “Planet 6.0” that envisions a “cycle socio-economic zone” that includes the Earth and the moon, based on a Japanese government idea of “Society 5.0” that uses artificial intelligence and robotics.
Government sourcing of commercial solutions for lunar related activities and transportation, a legislative structure to promote private investment in lunar businesses, and the development of legislation, including the execution of the space resources legislation passed in June, are among the recommendations in the report.