Japanese space startup ispace inc is gearing up for a lunar landing after raising $46 million in Series C funding led by Japan-based venture capital investor Incubate Fund, according to an announcement.
The latest funding round, which was also participated by Innovation Engine, SBI Investment, Aizawa Investments Co, among others, brings ispace’s total funds raised to date to approximately $19.5 million.
The Tokyo-based startup has begun the assembly of its lunar lander flight model at an Ariane Group facility in Lampoldshausen, Germany in preparation for its lunar mission, which is scheduled for launch in the second half of this year.
In parallel, ispace will commence its full-fledged development of lunar landers for subsequent missions to establish a high-frequency delivery service to the Moon.
The fresh funding will be used towards ispace’s second lunar mission, which is planned to launch in 2023, as well as to increase the size of its lunar lander for its third mission, which is currently planned to launch in 2024.
The lander for the third mission is currently being developed in the United States.
“We are very grateful to our investors for supporting ispace to develop a high-frequency lunar transportation platform. We are also honored that our investors share our vision to develop a lunar ecosystem that contributes to a more sustainable world,” said ispace founder and CEO Takeshi Hakamada.
ispace has offices and over 150 staff in Japan, Europe, and the US. Aspiring to be a gateway for private sector companies to bring their business to the Moon, ispace has also launched a lunar data business concept to support companies with lunar market entry.
The company’s first lunar mission is planned for 2022 with a second mission planned for 2023. On its first mission, ispace’s lander will deliver payloads for the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and three companies that received awards as part of the Canadian Space Agency’s (CSA) Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program (LEAP) program.