Tokyo-based ispace is scheduled to launch its Series 1 robotic lunar lander, which is undergoing final assembly in Europe., on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the second half of 2022. Credit: ispace

SAN FRANCISCO — Airbus Ventures announced an investment Oct. 25 in ispace, the Toyko-based company preparing to send its first lander to the moon next year.

Airbus Ventures brought ispace into its portfolio because “it’s an extraordinary team that has positioned the right technologies at the right time,” Lewis Pinault, the Airbus Ventures partner who leads the firm’s investments in Asia, told SpaceNews. “They have every chance of being the first private company on the moon.”

Airbus Ventures also is enthusiastic about ispace’s plan to acquire data on lunar mineral and energy resources, Pinault said.

Since it was founded in Japan in 2010, ispace has established offices in Luxembourg and Denver, and relationships with space agencies and private companies around the world. A Series 1 ispace lunar lander is undergoing final assembly in an ArianeGroup facility in Germany ahead of its flight scheduled for the second half of 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The ispace’s lander is slated to deliver lunar payloads for the UAE-based Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, the Japanese Space Agency JAXA, and commercial firms in Japan and Canada.

Like ispace, Airbus Ventures is eager to explore how the moon’s natural resources could provide clean energy and rare metals to support life on Earth. The moon also “has the opportunity to become the first space for off-world manufacturing, which would alleviate the stresses that manufacturing puts on our planet,” Pinault said. Ispace is “well-positioned to build a data-driven business to help us think differently about the future of the moon as a partner of the Earth for Earth sustainability,” he added.

Ispace has raised approximately $200 million to date, according to the Oct. 25 news release. After announcing that it raised $46 million in a Series C investment round in August, ispace announced Oct. 20 that Axiom Asia Private Capital was providing additional funding as part of an extension to the Series C round.

“It’s an honor to receive this investment from a truly global organization like Airbus Ventures, which is another first direct investment from an international institutional investor for ispace, along with Axiom Asia Private Capital,” ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada, said in a statement.

In 2023, ispace plans to launch its second lunar mission.

Airbus Ventures’ space portfolio also includes Morpheus Space and LeoLabs.

Airbus Ventures and Axiom Asia Private Capital did not disclosed the value of their investments in ispace.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...