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A Japanese company that aims to help humanity explore and settle the moon will fly its first two lunar missions with SpaceX.
The Tokyo-based startup ispace has contracted to launch its lunar lander and mini-rovers as secondary payloads atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets in 2020 and 2021, representatives of both companies announced today (Sept. 26).
Two-phase - Step - Hakuto-Reboot - Hakuto-R - Name
The two-phase first step is known as Hakuto-Reboot, or Hakuto-R for short. The name is a reference to Team Hakuto, an ispace-managed entrant in the now-defunct Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP), a contest that promised $30 million in prizes for the first teams to successfully land privately built rovers on the moon. The GLXP ended earlier this year with no winners.
The 2020 ispace mission will be considered a success if the lander achieves lunar orbit, company representatives said. The following year, the goal is to put a lander down softly on the moon's surface, and to deploy data-gathering rovers from the craft as well.
Missions - Ispace - Japanese-record - Haul - Series
Both of these missions — which ispace is bankrolling via its Japanese-record haul of more than $90 million in "Series A" investment funding — are technology demonstrations designed to lay the groundwork for the startup's ambitious future plans. Eventually, ispace aims to set up a robotic lunar transportation service and use its bantam rovers to identify and help exploit the resources available on Earth's nearest neighbor, such as water ice....
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