Dec 18, 2017 | By Tess

Japanese space startup iSpace Technologies Inc. has successfully raised $90 million in investments through a Series A financing round. The company says the funding will enable it to launch a spacecraft into lunar orbit by 2019, and eventually to offer a “projection mapping service” to advertise on the moon’s surface.

iSpace, founded in 2013 by Takeshi Hakamada, is an ambitious space exploration company that has its sights set on the resources available on the moon and in space. Specifically, the company is using 3D printing technologies to develop micro-robots capable of finding resources on the moon that could allow humans to stay and perhaps even settle on the moon.

As the Tokyo-based company says, “Our main focus is to locate, extract, and deliver lunar ice to customers in cis-lunar space.” Cis-lunar space, for those unfamiliar, refers to the area between the moon and the earth.

The recent investment round, which saw $90 million raised, was led by Japan Airlines Co. and Tokyo Broadcasting System Holdings Inc., and included the Development Bank of Japan, Konica Minolta, Shimizy, Real Tech Fund, KDDI, Suzuki Motor, SPARX, Dentsu, and Toppan Printing.

As mentioned, the new funding will enable iSpace to launch two space missions. The first will be to send a spacecraft into lunar orbit by  2019, and the second will see that same ship land on the moon in 2020. The company’s investors will also provide support and technologies for the missions, including a projection mapping service, which will be a sort of billboard projection on the moon’s surface.

Presently, iSpace is using a range of innovative processes, such as 3D printing, to create low-cost micro-robots designed to explore the moon’s surface, gather data on resources, and even extract resources, such as lunar ice. These small robots, prototyped using 3D printing and off-the-shelf components, have the potential to explore the moon faster and in a more cost-effective manner than large rovers.

In iSpace’s “2040 Vision Movie,” the small moon rovers are deployed on the moon to find ice, which is then transported to processing machines which separate the hydrogen and oxygen in the water to create energy. This energy, in turn, could allow for a fuel station to be established in the moon which, down the line, would make it possible to have scheduled flights to the moon and, ultimately, moon settlers.

Coming back to the present, however, iSpace is preparing for its first missions. “We wanted to make sure that our financing for the next two missions was in place,” said Takeshi Hakamada, iSpace founder. “Through these two missions, we’re going to validate our technology to land on the moon safely. After we validate the technology, we’re going to enter the lunar transportation business.”

iSpace, as part of Team HAKUTO, is also a finalist in the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize competition, which is seeking to bolster privately-funded moon landing missions. The innovative company expects that by 2040, the moon could already have a population of about 1,000 as well as a significant tourism industry bringing in 10,000 visitors every year.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Ignacio wrote at 12/22/2017 2:28:46 AM:

Pretty sure that's illegal.

frank lipsky wrote at 12/19/2017 5:49:24 AM:

billboards on the moon? .Of what possible value can this be to a civilized society? The Japanese or any other nation that attempts this should be ashamed and re-evaluate their moral codes

Mike wrote at 12/19/2017 2:43:57 AM:

No. No. No. No. And, no.

4WheelDrifter wrote at 12/19/2017 2:33:40 AM:

Marvelous. What, are we running out of room on the highways???

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