Japanese lunar company ispace launches cargo mission in November
The assembled Mission 1 lunar lander being tested in Germany.
Japanese lunar exploration company ispace on Wednesday announced plans to launch its first cargo mission next month, rushing to be the first of several private companies to deliver payloads to the surface of the moon.
The private company aims to launch its “Mission 1” lunar lander during a window between November 9 and 15, aboard one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Mission 1 will carry a variety of corporate and government payloads, including a pair of rovers. The company completed testing of its spacecraft in September and is set to transport the lander to Florida.
Alongside ispace in the booming lunar cargo market are US companies like Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, both of which plan to launch missions to the surface of the moon next year.
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Born out of Google’s Lunar XPRIZE competition last decade, ispace aims to provide a wide variety of moon-focused services, from transporting goods to selling data to space agencies.
It now has more than 200 employees in its offices in Japan, Luxembourg and the United States. To date, ispace has raised over $200 million in funding.
A plane flies past the second full moon of July, Friday, July 31, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia.
Joel Kowsky | Nasa