The Japanese company ispace, whose team reached the finals of the Google Lunar XPrize contest, signed a contract with SpaceX to send two missions to the Moon. During the first flight, scheduled for 2020, iSpace device will orbit the Moon, and in 2021 the company intends to send a lander to the lunar rover on the lunar surface, it reported in a press release ispace.
The company ispace is known for its Hakuto team, which became the finalist of the Google Lunar XPrize contest. His goal was to develop and send to the Moon a spacecraft capable of overcoming 500 meters on the surface of the Earth satellite and sending photographs and video recordings at high resolution. In January 2018, the organizers announced that none of the participating teams will have time to complete the mission before the end of the contest, and it remained without winners. More information on how the contest was held and what led to such an end, you can read in our material “The moon and a pittance” .
Despite the early completion of the contest, some of its finalists continued to develop their vehicles and prepare for launch. For example, the Israeli team SpaceIL in July for the first time showed the assembled landing gear of its own design and announced that it plans to send it to the Moon in December 2018.
Now the company ispace has announced the continuation of the preparation of the lunar mission. The program called HAKUTO-R consists of two missions scheduled for mid-2020 and 2021 years. During the first mission, the company will send a landing gear to the Moon, but it will not land on the surface of the Moon, but will orbit around it and start transmitting data to Earth. In 2021, ispace will send a second unit, which will make a soft landing on the moon and deliver to its surface small moonshifts, which will also collect scientific data.The company has already signed a contract with SpaceX for both launches. Apparatus ispace will act as a side load during the launch of the Falcon 9 missile. The company also planned seven missions in 2022, during which it will create a transport platform for movements between the Earth and the Moon and explore the water reserves in the polar regions of the Moon, but ispace is not reveals the details of these missions.
Recently SpaceX announced the conclusion of a contract for another lunar mission. The company plans not earlier than 2023 to conduct a tourist flyby of the Moon on the developed superheavy BFR rocket. The first space tourist SpaceX will be 42-year-old billionaire Yusaku Maezawa ( Yusaku Maezawa ).