Suzuki just announced that its getting into the space race by backing a lunar exploration company called Ispace. Wait, what? Lunar exploration? Yep. Apparently the cleverly named Ispace plans to build a city on the moon by 2014. Just how do they plan to do that and what does Suziki have to do with it? I'm glad you asked.
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Japan-based Ispace recently raised around $90 million in funds to send some robots to the moon as the first phase of their 20-year moon colonization plan. Among the companies that ponied up funds for this project – including luminaries such as Konica Minolta, Development Bank of Japan, Japan Airlines, and Tokyo Broadcasting System – is our old friend Suzuki.
"Suzuki has decided to fund two lunar missions announced by ispace, inc. a private lunar exploration company," said Suziki in a recent press release. "Ispace currently manages team HAKUTO, the sole Japanese team participating in the Google Lunar XPRIZE, and Suzuki has been a corporate partner with HAKUTO since July, 2016. Ispace announced on 13th December that it will spearhead two lunar missions to orbit around and land on the Moon with its self-developed lunar lander, and Suzuki will support its projects through the missions as one of co-funding companies. With the two missions as the starting point, ispace plans to expand commercial space activities centered around lunar resources and create a sustainable living sphere beyond Earth."
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So what's Ispace's plan? Why are they doing all this? What's Suzuki get for their money? Here's what Ispace has to say on that.
"Ispace is commercializing lunar resource development to extend human presence beyond Earth. The company currently manages team HAKUTO, the sole Japanese team participating in the Google Lunar XPRIZE. With this new funding, Ispace will continue to develop its revolutionary technology and spearhead two exploration missions to the Moon after the HAKUTO mission. Ispace has begun the development of its small, agile, and modular lunar lander to provide a regular transportation service to the Moon. Mission 1, planned for the fourth quarter of 2019, will inject the lander into the lunar orbit to conduct observation of the lunar surface. Mission 2, planned for the fourth quarter of 2020, will see the lander attempt a soft landing on the Moon, deploying multiple rovers to explore and map the surface."
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Pretty heady stuff, and that's just the first phase. Ispace was kind enough to make a neat movie about their plans, so you should check it out. Who knows, maybe we'll be riding Gixxers on the Moon soon!