Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | A Japanese company has announced a long-term plan to develop the Moon

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica |

To the Moon! —

“Around 2030 we expect to begin developing propellant and sending it to spacecraft.”


  • This is the preliminary design of the ispace lunar lander.


    ispace

  • And here is its payload, the “mother” lunar rover.


    ispace

  • The following images that demonstrate rover deployment come from a company video. Here, the lander is being launched on a Falcon 9 rocket.


    ispace

  • Here, the ispace spacecraft separates from the second stage in geostationary transfer orbit.


    ispace

  • It flies under its own power to lunar orbit.


    ispace

  • And then down to the surface.


    ispace

  • Then the mother rover deploys.


    ispace

  • It heads out for an adventure.


    ispace

  • Here, the mother rover deploys the child rover.


    ispace

  • “I wonder what’s down this hole?”


    ispace

  • “Once more unto the breach…”


    ispace

On Wednesday, a Japanese company called ispace announced that it has two missions planned to the Moon within the next three years and that it has acquired ride-share launches on two Falcon 9 rockets to carry out those flights. The company’s founder, Takeshi Hakamada, also said he has a long-term vision to have a city on the Moon visited by 10,000 people a year by 2040.

If this all sounds a little too ambitious, well, welcome to the world of aerospace, which is always heavy on promotion and big ideas. And we like that. NASA didn’t land on the Moon because it was timid. However, we also feel compelled to bring at least a splash of realism to the conversation.

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Two missions

The two missions ispace announced Wednesday are an orbiter launch in mid-2020 and a more complicated lander-and-rover mission a year later. Both will be secondary payloads on Falcon 9 rocket launches, being released by the rocket’s second stage in geostationary transfer orbit. From there, they will proceed to the Moon under their own propulsive power.

The initial orbiter is a relatively straightforward mission. Jamie Denniston, the lead lander engineer for the company, said mission success would be reaching lunar orbit. Beyond that, the company hopes to take images of the surface and validate some of its navigation systems for future missions. 

Following this mission, ispace has completed a preliminary design review of its lander, which houses two rovers. There is a larger “mother” rover that can then deploy a smaller “child” rover to enter into “skylights” that lead to lunar lava tubes. The child rover would remain attached to its mother rover by a tether, which would provide power and communications. This is both strikingly cool and ambitious.

Hexbyte - Tech News - Ars Technica | Under ispace's plans, a
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Under ispace’s plans, a “mother” rover would deploy a “child” rover.

ispace

Mission success does not require these complex maneuvers, however. For this mission, due to launch in

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