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Japanese lunar company ispace aims to launch first cargo mission to the moon next month

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The assembled Mission 1 lunar lander undergoing testing in Germany.
ispace

Japanese lunar exploration company ispace announced plans on Wednesday to launch its first cargo mission next month, racing to be the first of several private ventures to deliver payloads to the moon’s surface.

The private company aims to launch its “Mission 1” lunar lander during a window between Nov. 9 and Nov. 15, riding on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Mission 1 will carry a variety of payloads for both companies and governments, including a pair of rovers. The company completed testing of its spacecraft in September, and is about to transport the lander to Florida.

Alongside ispace in the burgeoning lunar cargo marketplace are the likes of U.S. companies Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, both of which plan to launch missions to the moon’s surface next year.

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Born out of Google’s Lunar XPRIZE competition last decade, ispace aims to provide a wide variety of lunar-focused services, ranging from transportation of cargo to selling data to space agencies.

It now has more than 200 employees across its offices in Japan, Luxembourg and the U.S. To date ispace has raised more than $200 million in funding.

A plane is seen flying in front of the second full moon for the month of July, Friday, July 31, 2015 in Arlington, Va.
Joel Kowsky | NASA

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