Japan’s ispace teams up with SpaceX for moonshot

ispace lander and rover
An artist’s conception shows ispace’s lander and rover on the lunar surface. (ispace Illustration)

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.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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