Tokyo based space exploration firm iSpace which is aiming to help humans settle down on the moon has recently updated the timeline of its missions. It has been planning to launch its first demo mission to lunar orbit during 2020 followed by a landing on the moon with a rover the next year. But iSpace recently announced that instead of wasting resources on demo flights it will directly undertake missions to send payloads to lunar surface through a stationary lander in 2021. The second mission that is set for 2023 will involve sending a rover for exploration of lunar surface.
These two missions will be part of secondary payload on Falcon 9 rockets of SpaceX. Spokesperson of iSpace issued a statement saying that their plan to adjust the mission was in response to dramatic changes in the lunar exploration market that has led to growing competitiveness. Due to NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload or CLPS program and other opportunities that are emerging in the world the firm had to improve its competitiveness for supporting contracts. During end of last year the CLPS program of NASA signed up with nine private firms for carrying its science and tech payloads to moon’s surface in years to come.
One of its partners is Draper which has also forged a partnership with iSpace for developing lunar lander design and mission operations. For improving its competitiveness against NASA’s technological expertise and also meet market demands iSpace decided to concentrate its resources in undertaking a successful landing mission on the moon in 2021. The forthcoming missions of 2021 and 2023 together will make up for the firm’s Hakuto-Reboot program. This will just be a first for iSpace after which if the first mission is done successfully, it is planning to exploit the water ice on moon’s surface which is likely to be plentiful below its polar craters.