Draper Laboratory Unveils Team for NASA’s Next Moonshot

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Draper, a company with a heritage in space exploration dating to the Apollo moon landings, announced today its team for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract. Under the proposal, the team will support NASA in the delivery of small rovers and instruments to meet lunar science and exploration needs, advance development of lunar landers for human missions and conduct more research on the moon’s surface ahead of a human return.

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ispace to Launch Lunar Missions on SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2020, 2021

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

TOKYO, September 26, 2018 (ispace PR) – ispace, a company developing robotics for lunar delivery and resource exploration, announced today that SpaceX will be the launch provider for its maiden voyages to the Moon scheduled for 2020 and 2021. The company’s first two lunar missions will be carried out under the program name HAKUTO-R, standing for “Reboot”, a reference to ispace’s management of HAKUTO, a Google Lunar XPRIZE competition finalist.

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China’s OneSpace Launches Suborbital Booster

OneSpace launched the OS-X1 suborbital rocket on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in another step toward orbital flights for the Chinese commercial launch company, according to media reports.

Gbtimes reports the solid-fuel Chongqing Liangjiang Star booster reached an altitude of about 35 kilometer during a 3m 20s flight. The first flight of the suborbital rocket was conducted in May.

The flight was captured from space by the Jilin-1, which was passing overhead at the time.

The suborbital flights are testing technology for the company’s larger OS-XM orbital booster. The company is planning a flight test of that rocket by the end of the year.

The flight came two days after Chinese rival iSpace launched its Hyperbola-1Z suborbital rocket from Jiuquan. iSpace also has plans for an orbital launch vehicle and a space plane.

A third commercial launch firm, Landspace,  plans to launch the orbital Zhuque-1 rocket next month.

Chinese Startup iSpace Launches Suborbital Rocket

Hyperbolic XQS-1X rocket (Credit: iSpace)

Chinese commercial launch provider iSpace successfully launched its Hyperbola-1Z suborbital booster with three payloads aboard from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Wednesday at 1 p.m. local time (0500 UTC), according to media reports.

The 9-meter (29.5-foot) tall, single stage solid-fuel rocket reached an altitude of 175 km (108 miles) and deployed the three suborbital payloads. One of the payloads parachuted back to Earth, media reports say.

In April, the company launched the suborbital Hyperbola-1S rocket to an altitude of 40 km (29.85 miles).

iSpace completed a series A round of fundraising in July that brought the total amount raised to 600 million yuan ($90 million) in 2018. The round was led by Matrix Partners China.

The company has plans to develop an orbital satellite launcher as well as a space plane.

China’s iSpace Raises $90.6 Million for Launcher Development

Chinese launch vehicle startup iSpace has announced it has closed a funding round with Matrix Partners China to bring the total amount raised to $90.6 million over the past year.

In a statement, the startup said, the new financing will be mainly used to fund the research and development of launchers and engines, as well as the construction of final assembly bases and staff training….

Founded in 2016, iSpace is develops “high-quality, low-cost, fast-responding” commercial launchers to serve micro-satellite manufacturers, operators, research institutes and universities at home and abroad.

The company has two research centers, one in Beijing and one in Xi’an, capital of the northwestern province of Shaanxi, according to a news release from the company.

Maxtrix Partners China is an affiliate of the U.S.-based venture capital fund. In addition to Matrix, Crunchbase says the following backers have invested in iSpace: Fosun Group, Baidu, Shuairan Investment Management, Didi Chuxing, Citic Juxin, Venture Capital Fund of New England and Shunwei Capital.

Google Lunar X Prize is Back — Without Google & Without a Prize

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

LOS ANGELES, April 5, 2018 (XPRIZE PR) — Today, XPRIZE announced their plan to continue the Lunar XPRIZE mission, with a re-launch of a new Lunar-focused competition.

Effective today, the Lunar XPRIZE will operate as a non-cash competition. Over the next few months, XPRIZE will define new parameters for companies to compete in the prize.

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Japan Offers $940 Million Fund for Space Startups

The Japanese government is setting up a $940 million fund to support space startups.

The funds will be made available through investments and loans over the next five years, as part of a government-led initiative to double Japan’s more than $11 billion space industry. With less than 20 Japanese space start-ups currently operating, many see this as critical to helping new companies cover costs such as research or applying for patents….

Ispace has received government backing in the past, including during a recent $90.2 million round of funding that included Suzuki Motor and Japan Airlines. Founded seven years ago, ispace is stepping beyond the Google-backed Lunar XPRIZE competition to fund two exploration missions to the moon, with the first by the end of 2019 and the second by the end of 2020.

The Japanese government is setting up an agency to manage the funds and connect start-ups with local talent from organizations such as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or the rocket-building arm of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Initially, start-ups will be eligible to each receive about $100,000 in aid to help present concepts to investors. Promising ventures and more mature companies will be able to tap into the rest of the $940 million fund to further development.

Japan also announced it is considering new laws and policies that would allow businesses to own plots of land developed on the moon, in a similar manner to the laws passed by the United States and Luxembourg.

The GLXP is Dead! Long Live the GLXP!

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

This past week, the XPrize acknowledged the obvious:  after 10 years and multiple deadline extensions, none of the five remaining teams was going to claim the Google Lunar X Prize by landing a privately-built vehicle on the moon that would travel 500 meters across the surface while sending back high-definition video.

The first team to accomplish that goal would have claimed $20 million; the second, $5 million. But, unlike the moon race of the 1960’s, Google’s much hyped moon shot ended not with the deafening roar of a launch but the deadening silence of a dream deferred.

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GLXP News: TeamIndus Throws in the Towel on Prize, Promises New Direction

Lunar rover (Credit: TeamIndus)

Statement from TeamIndus

“Antrix and TeamIndus are mutually terminating the launch services agreement signed in 2016. Antrix remains committed to encouraging and promoting private enterprise in space. TeamIndus will continue with its goal of building a world class private aerospace company. TeamIndus also thanks Antrix for its assistance and looks forward to collaborating with Antrix in the future to take India higher and further into space. Antrix takes this opportunity to wish TeamIndus all success in its future endeavours.”

“TeamIndus has been in talks with the Google Lunar XPrize over the past few weeks and had expressed its inability to meet the 31st March 2018 deadline to complete 500 meter traversal on the Moon. We respect the decision by the organizers to not extend the competition deadline any further and thank them for having created an unique platform that unleashed innovation, created newer technologies and drew in teams from various backgrounds to solve problems of enabling human exploration beyond the Earth orbit.

We have formally, amicably and mutually closed our Launch services agreement with Antrix. We continue to look towards Antrix & ISRO as our preferred partners of choice for all our future endeavours.

At TeamIndus, we are grateful for the support we have received from all our partners, supporters over this journey of 7 years. We are working closely with all of them to ascertain their role as we expand our horizons and work on repeatedly delivering increased capacity, precision of payload to the Moon. More details on our next phase of evolution coming up later this week.”

Editor’s Note: Indian media reports indicate that Anxtrix terminated the agreement because it hadn’t been paid. Perhaps those reports were incorrect. Or everyone is trying to save face. In any event, TeamIndus did not have the money or the time to finish the lander and rover before the prize ended.

You know who does have that kind of money, though? Ispace, the Japanese company backing Team HAKUTO, whose rover was going to catch a ride with Team Indus. It just raised $90.2 million in Series A funding to support lunar missions.

TeamIndus says its making an announcement on Thursday about some new direction, known in tech circles as a pivot. I would not be surprised if it’s a partnership with HAKUTO. But, that’s just a guess. I don’t have any inside information concerning their plans.

Time Running Out to Win Google Lunar X Prize

Lunar rover (Credit: TeamIndus)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The clock is ticking for the remaining teams in the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize competition.

Barring another extension, they have until March 31 to land a vehicle on moon and travel 500 meters across it to claim the $20 million first prize or $5 million second prize. It’s not clear whether any of them will make the deadline.

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ispace Raises $90.2 Million Series A, Plans Two Lunar Missions by 2020

Credit: ispace

TOKYO, December 13th, 2017 (ispace PR) — ispace, a Japan-based private lunar exploration company, announced today that it has raised $90.2 million* in Series A funding—not only the largest-ever Series A raised in Japan, but also the largest to date in the global commercial space sector (as of Dec. 13th, 2017).

The financing will be used to develop a lunar lander and conduct two lunar missions by the end of 2020. The funding was joined by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan; Development Bank of Japan; Tokyo Broadcasting System; Konika Minolta; Shimizu; Suzuki Motor; SPARX; Dentsu; Real Tech Fund; KDDI; Japan Airlines; and Toppan Printing.

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ispace to Announce Major Series A Investment Round

TOKYO — ispace, a Japanese start-up responsible for Team HAKUTO’s entry in the Google Lunar X Prize, is planning to announce “the largest fund raised in Series A in the global space industry” next week to support its efforts to mine the moon.

“It involves a round of significant financing and details around the next missions of ispace, planned after the currently run HAKUTO project,” according to an invitation sent to journalists.

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Lockheed Martin Debuts System to Protect Space Assets

iSpace Helps Customers Address the Threatened Space Environment

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Lockheed Martin PR) — A growing number of satellite system owners and operators need new capabilities to protect their assets and missions in space. To address this need, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) introduces iSpace – intelligent Space – which provide defense, civil, commercial, and international customers with sensor data processing, space domain awareness, command and control, and battle management capabilities for the space domain.

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Private Lunar Exploration Company ispace Collaborates With JAXA on Lunar Resource Development Initiative

TOKYO (ispace PR) — ispace, inc, a private lunar robotic exploration company, announced today that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to jointly create a roadmap for lunar resource development. Under this agreement, both parties will utilize their knowledge and network to develop plans and frameworks for creating an industry around lunar resource mining, delivery and utilization.

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