Japanese Lunar Exploration Firm ispace Raises $28M and Inspires Moon Insurance

The Japanese lunar exploration firm, ispace, which is developing spacecraft to carry people to the moon, just raised $28 million from the four organizations for its Series B investment round.

The firm, which aspires to be a “gateway for the private sector to bring their business” to the moon is also developing a lunar data business to provide information for those looking to establish businesses on the lunar surface.

Among the backers of ispace is an insurer that is planning to offer Moon Insurance to protect businesses that want to join the lunar community.

Along with lead investor IF SPV 1st Investment Partnership (managed by Incubate Fund), the investors in the $28 million round include Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Space Frontier Fund (managed by Sparks Innovation for Future), and Takasago Thermal Engineering Co.

The Series B round brings ispace’s cumulative total investment to approximately $125 million (USD). The company plans to apply the funds toward the development of its commercial lunar lander for its first mission (2022) and second mission (2023), as well as to increase the size of its lander for its third mission and beyond.

In conjunction with its Series B investment announcement, ispace also launched a new lunar data business concept, labeled “Blueprint Moon,” a planned data-centric platform through which the company will support customers with lunar market entry. The company outlined its vision to collect lunar data (i.e., imaging, environmental data, telemetry, resources information, etc.) and apply it to tools and applications, which can be provided as a service to potential customers (i.e., government space agencies, universities, research institutions, and private companies) for mission planning and lunar surface development.

The Japanese firm anticipates increased activity and permanent human presence on the moon in the coming years, which it believes could generate economic activity. This lunar data business is aimed at enabling ispace to help companies to both design and deliver their business to the moon.

“This new investment and launch of our new lunar data offering concept will not only support the steady development of ispace’s business, but will also prove that ispace can lead globally in the development of the lunar economy, expanding humanity’s presence into space and creating a more sustainable world,” said Takeshi Hakamada, founder and chief executive officer of ispace.

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, in addition to investing in ispace’s Series B round, is also a corporate partner of ispace’s HAKUTO-R program. The insurer is designing lunar insurance to support future business risks on the moon.

Isao Nojo, senior executive officer, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, said his company sees its creation of Moon Insurance as way to support ispace in its mission in addition to investing. “[We are committed to supporting ispace’s ambitious and unlimited potential in its quest to create a sustainable world through the effective use of lunar resources,” said Nojo.

The companies announced their plan to cooperate on the development of lunar insurance in 2019. They said they recognize that lunar surface is a region with many factors still unknown to humanity; as such, many new risks are to be expected.

“The availability of lunar exploration insurance will encourage new players to participate in the lunar industry by reducing the risk of entry,” said ispace’s Hakamada in announcing the insurance plan. “With the ability to insure our landers and rovers, ispace and its customers will be able to concentrate on realizing our vision without hesitation.”