ispace and Draper Sign Exclusive Long-Term Partnership for Lunar Missions

11 Oct, 2018

U.S. Firm that Landed Apollo on the Moon to Provide Exclusive Precision Landing GNC Capability for ispace Missions until 2026

TOKYO – October 11, 2018 – ispace, a lunar exploration company, announced today that it has signed an agreement with Draper, an American not-for-profit research and development organization, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as its long-term partner for lunar landing Guidance, Navigation & Control (GNC), a critical technology for mission success.

GNC is the key technology for precision landing and hazard detection and avoidance. The polar areas of the Moon where water resources are principally located are steep and rough terrain areas. As ispace aims to conduct frequent missions to the Moon to acquire data about the availability of water resources and support human presence, it is critical to establish its precise landing capability and improve its mission reliability.

Draper is recognized as the world’s premier institution and expert in this field, and has been involved as a key participant in every American human space mission in history. An 86-year old company with a long-standing relationship with NASA, Draper is most recognized for landing Apollo on the Moon, and safely bringing NASA astronauts to the Moon and back.

ispace will own exclusive rights to Draper’s GNC software through 2026 for small commercial landers, including ispace’s first landing missions in 2021, and the first 5 years of ispace’s commercial missions that begin in 2021. No commercial small lander competitor to ispace can use the capability during this period.

• Takeshi Hakamada, ispace’s Founder & CEO: “This partnership will be one of ispace’s strongest competitive advantages. By bringing together Draper’s world-renowned landing GNC capabilities with our innovative lunar lander design, our customers can be assured that ispace will provide the world’s most advanced and credible lunar transportation capabilities.”

• Seamus Tuohy, Draper’s Principal Director of Space Systems: “We are confident that ispace is the best equipped among the commercial players to realize a return to the Moon. We have no doubt in ispace’s success, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to make history together with them.”

Draper will also support ispace’s landing strategy, algorithms, hardware selection, software development, test & simulation, and technology transfer & training, and support ispace’s lander development activities.

■ NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services

Along with this partnership, on October 9th, Draper and ispace submitted a proposal to NASA for Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS). The team’s proposal supports NASA’s goal to buy end-to-end payload services on small commercial lunar landers and re-establish the moon as a destination for future human spaceflight. Selected companies for NASA CLPS will be announced by the end of 2018.

■ About ispace, inc. 

ispace is a lunar exploration company with over 85 full-time and part-time staff from 13 countries. The company has 3 global offices in Japan, Europe and the NASA Ames Research Park in the U.S., and has signed agreements with JAXA and The Government of Luxembourg. ispace raised nearly $100 million USD in its Series A funding—more than almost any other space company in history. The funding is being used for its first two lunar missions in 2020 and 2021, which will both launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The missions are intended to lay the groundwork for high-frequency commercial missions. ispace’s engineers have collective experience working for 5 international space agencies, including NASA. Our Media Room can be accessed here.

■ Draper

At Draper, we believe exciting things happen when new capabilities are imagined and created. Whether formulating a concept and developing each component to achieve a field-ready prototype or combining existing technologies in new ways, Draper engineers apply multidisciplinary approaches that deliver new capabilities to customers. As a not-for-profit research and development company, Draper focuses on the design, development and deployment of advanced technological solutions for the world’s most challenging and important problems. We provide engineering solutions directly to government, industry and academia; work on teams as prime contractor or subcontractor; and participate as a collaborator in consortia. We provide unbiased assessments of technology or systems designed or recommended by other organizations—custom designed, as well as commercial-off-the-shelf.


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