Opportunities for a Japanese Lunar Lander Developer in Japan-U.S. Artemis Agreement

Opportunities for a Japanese Lunar Lander Developer in Japan-U.S. Artemis Agreement

## Japan’s Lunar Lander Ambitions in the Artemis Agreement

The United States and Japan have inked an agreement that could propel a Japanese lunar lander developer, ispace, to new heights in the Artemis lunar exploration campaign. Under the agreement, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will contribute a pressurized rover to Artemis missions, while NASA will reserve two seats on Artemis landing missions for Japanese astronauts.

Expanding Opportunities for ispace

ispace’s Chief Executive, Takeshi Hakamada, sees this agreement as a boon for their company. He anticipates increased demand for small robotic lunar landers, which ispace specializes in developing. The need for such landers will likely arise from scientific exploration, technology demonstrations, and supplementary missions during manned missions.

Japanese Government Investment

Hakamada also points to the Japanese government’s pledge to invest $6.4 billion in the commercial space sector over a decade. He believes a significant portion will support lunar activities, further boosting ispace’s prospects.

ispace’s Ongoing Lander Projects

ispace is simultaneously working on three lander projects in Japan and the United States. In Japan, they are developing Series 3 under a government grant, slated for launch in 2027 (M6 mission). In the US, their subsidiary, ispace US, is building APEX 1.0 lander (M3 mission) under a NASA contract for a 2026 launch.

Financial Considerations

The parallel development of multiple landers requires substantial capital. ispace raised 8.1 billion yen through a stock sale and borrowed 7 billion yen to finance M3 development and related expenses.

Despite a net loss of 2.37 billion yen in the fiscal year ending March 2024, ispace anticipates a larger net loss of 12.5 billion yen for the current fiscal year. CFO Jumpei Nozaki emphasizes that this is in line with their projections and necessary for their financial health.

New M3 Customer

During the earnings call, ispace announced the acquisition of a new customer for their M3 lander: a Romanian company called CDS. CDS will use the lander to showcase its precision location measurement technology.

The Japan-U.S. Artemis agreement has opened doors for Japanese lunar lander developers like ispace. With their innovative landers and government support, ispace aims to contribute significantly to the ambitious Artemis lunar exploration campaign.
also read:What is the significance of China’s Chang’e 6 mission and how does it demonstrate international collaboration in lunar exploration?

By Divya

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