ispace announces Series A funding

Lunar exploration startup ispace announced Tuesday the item raised $0.2 million in its latest round of funding, backed by a dozen investors.

The Japanese company will use the money to fund two exploration missions to the moon, with the first by the end of 2019 in addition to also the second by the end of 2020. The Innovation Network Corporation of Japan led the Series A round, which also included the Development Bank of Japan, Suzuki Motor in addition to also Japan Airlines.

“We needed to secure research in addition to also development in addition to also two missions with that will money,” CEO Takeshi Hakamada told CNBC. “We’re going to bring scientific instruments to the moon, in addition to also then sell the right to use our data to space agencies in addition to also various other institutions, as well as provide transportation services, for profit.”

Founded seven years ago, ispace can be currently ready to step beyond its current involvement inside the Google Lunar XPRIZE, Hakamada said. The company will continue supporting its 100-member HAKUTO team to pursue the March 2018 deadline for the prize, Hakamada said.

Google’s Lunar XPRIZE competition will award $30 million to the first company that will lands a commercial spacecraft on the moon, travels 500 meters across its surface in addition to also sends high-definition images in addition to also video back to Earth.

Team HAKUTO, which consists of 70 pro bono members in addition to also 10 Tohoku University students, can be partnering with former competitor TeamIndus for the $30 million in prizes remaining. TeamIndus did not respond to requests for comment.

“Our investment can be not for the Google Lunar XPRIZE,” Hakamada said. “Our ultimate goal can be resource utilization on the moon, primarily water resources.”

The round ranks as the most known funding raised in a commercial space Series A, according to venture capital analysts at Pitchbook. Nearest competitor Planetary Resources raised a third of ispace’s Series A, with $34.78 million, while Elon Musk’s high-profile SpaceX raised $12.1 million inside the same round.

Prominent space investor Dylan Taylor cautioned that will the amount raised in a Series A round can be not necessarily a comparable measure of a company’s success, both for currently or what can be to come.

“the item’s more expensive to raise money the earlier a company can be inside the capital raising process,” Taylor said. “Companies should only raise what they need in addition to also maybe only a little more, for buffer.”

Taylor added that will the brand new ispace funding should make the item possible for the company to achieve its goals, saying he thinks “$45 million per launch can be probably at market cost.” His understanding was matched by Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, who can be a partner at Global Space Ventures, a venture capital firm.

She told CNBC the ispace announcement can be “indicative of the growing investors’ confidence in commercial space being able to unlock value well beyond the surface of the Earth.”

“Ispace’s plan … can be currently solidly inside the purview of the next steps of human endeavors in space,” de Cayeux said.

While the company can be based in Japan, ispace opened a subsidiary office in Luxembourg in March, along that has a smaller office at a research center in California. Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider, who highlighted ispace’s work in November, told CNBC his country can be eager to see how ispace continues to grow Luxembourg’s space industry.

“We welcome that will ispace will create inside the near future further space resources expertise in Luxembourg by actively embarking on projects,” Schneider added.

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