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Japan’s ispace moon mission plans battery test

ispace lander and rover
Artwork shows ispace’s Hakuto-R lander and rover on the lunar surface. (ispace Illustration)

The Japanese moon venture known as ispace says it has recruited new corporate partners and struck a deal to put a commercial payload on its Hakuto-R lunar lander.

Ispace has arranged for two spacecraft to be launched to the moon, in 2020 and 2021, as secondary payloads on SpaceX rockets. Those will be rideshare missions similar to the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch that sent SpaceIL’s Israeli-made lander on its way to the moon tonight.

Like SpaceIL, ispace includes veterans of a team that competed in the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize. Team Hakuto took its name from the Japanese word for “white rabbit.” The R in the name of ispace’s Hakuto-R lunar project stands for “reboot.”

Ispace says it’s raised nearly $95 million in funding to support the Hakuto-R campaign. The 2020 mission would put a probe in lunar orbit, and the 2021 mission would send a lander and rover spacecraft to the lunar surface.

In a news release issued today, ispace says Japan-based NGK Spark Plug Co. has agreed to be a corporate partner in the Hakuto-R program. Part of the partnership will involve developing a payload to test solid-state battery technology on the moon.

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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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How an astronaut got tangled up in WikiLeaks

Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard
NASA astronauts Edgar Mitchell (foreground) and Alan Shepard (background) work on the lunar surface during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. (Credit: NASA)

WikiLeaks’ purloined emails cover a wide range of issues that were handled by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, but the farthest-out issues may well have to do with E.T., alien energy sources and Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

While GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump focused his fire on what the WikiLeaks file had to say about Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, UFO fans dwelled on what Mitchell was telling Podesta as he made the transition from the Obama White House to the Clinton campaign in 2015.

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