The race for first place in space and then on the moon was a competition primarily between the US and the Soviet Union. Today, however, the race to be the first to fully commercialize space travel and make it feasible for tourists is open to virtually everyone, including private actors.
We’ve heard of space agencies and aerospace companies teaming up to build the world’s first space hotel. Now we have an upcoming startup from Japan that wants to establish a courier service in space. Do you want to send a package or an urgent document to someone in space? Well, in a few years you can.
ISpace Inc., a Tokyo-based company, plans to launch a lunar lander by the end of this month that will carry a variety of commercial and government payloads, including two rovers.
This company’s goal is to have a human population on the moon by 2040, but before that it wants to convert one of its modules on the moon as a lunar courier and logistics hub. The aim is to make money on behalf of research institutes, private actors and certain government agencies by transporting commercial products and research equipment into space.
ISpace’s first voyage will test both the technological capabilities it has developed since its inception in 2010 and the confidence of its investors. The Japan Times reported that much depends on its success, including the possibility of an IPO later this fiscal year and a chance to take a bigger chunk of it Space tourism and commercial logistics industrywhich Morgan Stanley says would triple to $1 trillion in two decades from 2020.
The mission, in which ISpace Inc. is involved, is called the Hakuto-R lunar exploration program, which essentially means “white rabbit” in Japanese, and includes a lunar landing mission by the Japan Space and Research Agency. ISpace plans to launch at least 10 different missions to the moon before they can start building their “sorting center”.
One of the biggest costs for private providers like ISpace is the fuel costs associated with going to the moon. Spacecraft consume a lot of fuel when taking off and landing on the lunar surface. ISpace claims they have it a new way to land on the moon that would significantly reduce fuel consumption when landing on the moon. This new system uses the moon’s gravity for propulsion.
The startup claims that using the moon’s gravity for propulsion can reduce fuel costs. The success of ISpace’s mission will also be important for Japan’s own space program as the moon once again becomes the focus of global attention.
The launch takes place from Cape Canaveral in Florida and is used a Falcon 9 rocket engineered by Elon Musk SpaceX.
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