iSpace Launches Payloads into Space

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

iSpace, aka, Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd., has become the first private Chinese company to launch payloads into orbit.

The company launched its four-stage Hypobola-1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Thursday afternoon local time.

iSpace reported the rocket deployed the CAS-7B amateur radio satellite and a technology verification satellite for China Central Television. Three additional payloads remained attached to the upper stage as planned.

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Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Becomes Corporate Partner of ispace’s HAKUTO-R Lunar Program

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

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance & ispace Plan to Jointly Develop Lunar Insurance

TOKYO (ispace PR) – Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd. (“MSI”), a subsidiary of MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Inc.  based in Tokyo, Japan, and lunar exploration company, ispace, inc. (“ispace”), announced today that MSI has become a Corporate Partner of HAKUTO-R, the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program.

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Asahi Shimbun Becomes HAKUTO-R Media Partner

Credit: ispace

TOKYO (iSpace PR) – The Asahi Shimbun Newspaper (hereinafter: “Asahi Shimbun”), one of the oldest and largest national daily newspapers in Japan, and lunar exploration company, ispace, inc., announced that Asahi Shimbun will become the Media Partner of HAKUTO-R, the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program.

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NGK SPARK PLUG & HAKUTO-R Aim to Test Solid-State Battery Technology on the Moon in 2021

Thermal vacuum testing (Credit: HAKUTO)

NGK SPARK PLUG Becomes Corporate Partner of ispace’s HAKUTO-R Program

TOKYO, February 22, 2019 (ispace PR) – NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. (hereinafter: “NGK SPARK PLUG”), a manufacturer with over 80 years of experience in spark plugs and ceramics, headquartered in Nagoya, Japan, and lunar exploration company, ispace, inc., announced today that NGK SPARK PLUG has agreed to participate as a Corporate Partner of the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program “HAKUTO – R”.

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Japan Airlines Becomes Corporate Partner of ispace’s HAKUTO-R Lunar Program

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

JAL Assisting Lunar Lander Assembly & Transportation; Pursuing Future Space Business

TOKYO, February 22, 2019 (ispace PR) – Japan Airlines Corporation (“JAL”) and lunar exploration company, ispace, inc., announced today that JAL has become a Corporate Partner of HAKUTO-R, the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program.

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China Plans Another Busy Launch Year with Return of Long March 5

Long March 5 on the launch pad. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

After a record 39 launches in 2018, China is planning to launch over 50 satellites aboard more than 30 launch vehicles this year, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has announced.

The manifest includes the return to flight of China’s largest launch vehicle, Long March 5, after a two-year stand down. The booster, which can lift 14 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), failed during its second flight on July 2, 2017 after a successful maiden flight eight months earlier.

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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.