Moon lander startup ispace raises $28 million and launches a new lunar data platform

Ispace, one of the startups working on putting a private lunar lander on the moon sometime in the next few years, has raised a $28 million Series B funding round, which will be used to help it continue to develop its commercial lander ahead of planned 2022 and 2023 launches. Alongside the investment, the Japanese startup is also announcing a new data platform business that will leverage the lunar data it will collect to provide other companies, space agencies, research organizations and more with an informed basis for planning their own moon missions and eventual lunar commercial developments.

The $28 million Series B, which was led by IF SPV 1st Investment Partnership (through Incubate Fund), and includes funding by Space Frontier Fund (a fund whose LPs include Toyota, Mizuho Bank and more), Takasago Thermal Engineering Co. and Mitsui Sumitomo, brings the startup’s total funding to date to $125 million. The funds will also be used to help ispace develop a larger version of its HAKUTO-R lunar lander, which is set to be put into use for the company’s third and following moon missions.

The lunar data business that ispace is developing, which is called “Blueprint Moon,” anticipates increasing investment in human presence on and near the moon. The commercialization of space thus far has focused on Earth’s own orbital environment, with NASA planning a spate of lunar missions, as well as an orbital lunar space station and sustained human surface activities, as well as interest and investment from many other space agencies globally.

Ispace has managed to attract a lot of strategic commercial partners already to support its lander program, including Takasago Thermal, which will be testing its own electrolysis tech on the moon on a future mission with ispace, and Mitsui Sumitomo, which is creating a lunar insurance product that will be able to underwrite future commercial moon missions. Blueprint Moon will use existing publicly available lunar data, along with information collected on future ispace surface missions, to help other businesses and agencies create similar business, research and exploration opportunities in the future, while also generating more near-term revenue for the startup as it continues to focus on its more ambitious launches.