Japanese startup ispace announced that it will deliver lunar payloads from Canada and the United Arab Emirates to the Moon. The mission, set for 2022, relies on a Hakuto-R lander and SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. It will be the UAE’s first lunar mission and the first trip to the Moon by a private Japanese company.
Under a contract with Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, ispace will deliver a 22-pound, AI-powered rover called Rashid to the lunar surface. Equipped with a Mission Control Space Services flight computer, Rashid will explore and identify areas on the Moon.
Rashid will be accompanied by technology from three private Canadian companies, Mission Control Space Services, Canadensys, and NGC. These companies all have separate scientific missions and are funded through the CSA’s Capability Demonstration program, part of the agency’s $150 million Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program.
ispace says that it will bring cameras on its lunar road trip, not just to capture the journey, but to demonstrate an autonomous flight program from the NGC. Throughout the lunar mission, ispace will provide communications and power for Rashid and other devices.
Once ispace wraps up its 2022 mission, it will prepare for a 2023 lunar mission featuring a baseball-sized Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) rover. The round rover will roll around the lunar surface to snap photos, take video, and collect samples.