ispace Adds 3 Corporate Partners, Delays Moon Missions

Latest HAKUTO-R Lander and Rover design. (Credit: ispace)

TOKYO, August 21, 2019 (iSpace PR) — Today, the lunar exploration company, ispace, announced new partnerships with three leading Japanese companies who will join ispace’s HAKUTO-R commercial lunar exploration program as Corporate Partners, as well as updates to the program’s mission timeline.

Notably, each of these partners are 100-year old companies with long established success on Earth, now edging toward the expansion of their business to the Moon.

Citizen Watch Co.

Citizen, 101-years old, and one of the world’s largest watch makers, will apply its Super Titanium™ material—titanium treated with Citizen’s proprietary surface-hardening technology, making it 6x harder than stainless steel with excellent durability and scratch- and corrosion-resistance—to titanium components used in the HAKUTO-R lunar lander and rover. The treatment is aimed at increasing the environmental resistance and improving overall reliability of the titanium components of the spacecraft. Citizen will procure the titanium, process it, and apply it to the lander and rover.

Suzuki Motor Corporation

Suzuki, the multinational automaker, which turns 110-years old this year, will conduct structural analysis of the HAKUTO-R lunar lander, including analysis of the shock absorption system of the lander’s legs to inform on the design for a successful landing. (Note: Suzuki was also a partner of Team HAKUTO, one of the 5 finalists in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, and a Series A investor of ispace).

Sumitomo Corporation

Sumitomo Corp., one of the world’s largest general trading companies, which celebrates its 100-year anniversary this year, has partnered with the HAKUTO-R Program as it sets its sights on the next frontier for its business: the commercial space industry, including the development of industry on the Moon. Sumitomo Corporation will promote collaboration among several industry stakeholders across various fields to encourage growth in the lunar industry. 

Mission Timeline Update

ispace is adjusting its mission schedule for its HAKUTO-R program to focus on a soft lunar landing in 2021 for Mission 1, and a landing and deployment of a rover for surface exploration in 2023 for Mission 2.

In its initial mission schedule, ispace had planned a technology demonstration mission to send an orbiter around the Moon in 2020 for its first mission. The decision to adjust the mission schedule is primarily in response to the dramatic market acceleration and increasing demand for lunar exploration around the world.

Other Recent Updates

In August 2019, ispace expanded to 100 staff across its 3 global offices. In July 2019, the company’s European office was selected by the European Space Agency to be part of the Science Team for PROSPECT, a program which seeks to extract water on the Moon.