SpaceX has been signed up to provide rides to the moon for a pair of payloads built by ispace, a Japanese robotics and resource exploration company.
The announcement came today from ispace, the corporate heir to the Google Lunar X Prize’s Team Hakuto. The two lunar missions, tentatively set for 2020 and 2021, are part of a program called Hakuto-R, where Hakuto is the Japanese word for “white rabbit” and the R stands for “reboot.”
Ispace’s lunar orbiter/lander and lunar rovers would fly as secondary payloads on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The primary goal for the first mission would be to put a spacecraft into lunar orbit. That would set the stage for the second mission, aimed at making a soft landing and deploying rovers to gather data on the lunar surface.