A Japanese spacetech startup that wanted to be the newest kid on the lunar block failed in its valiant (and expensive) attempt today when its spacecraft crashed.
Japan-based ispace was set to make history today as the first for-profit venture to position a spacecraft on the moon.
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Only three other countries have executed lunar landings: the United States, Russia and China, but all of those were part of national — not private — endeavors.
Founded in 2010, ispace has raised a total of $174.8 million in funding over nine rounds, according to Crunchbase data. Its latest funding was raised on Oct. 25, 2021, from a Series C that included Airbus Ventures and Axiom Asia Private Capital. Other investors in the company include Innovation Engine, Incubate Fund and Suzuki Motor.
- Here’s a look at the full list of ispace investors.
A wild trip
The lander launched on a SpaceX rocket from Cape Canaveral on Dec. 11. Since then, the spacecraft has taken a three-month trek to enter orbit around the moon, according to reports.
On another historic note, the ispace lander was carrying a rover built by Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The rover was the first Arab-built lunar spacecraft. The 22-pound rover will spend 14 days cruising around the moon gathering data.
Spacetech enthusiasm is iffy
Overall, investor enthusiasm in spacetech has waned, but not dissolved, since its heyday several years ago.
This year’s largest VC-backed funding recipient in the spacetech space, Munich-based satellite launch service Isar Aerospace, announced in late March that it secured $165 million in Series C investment.
To get a broader sense of where spacetech funding is going, we pulled together a list of 64 companies in the industry that have raised venture or seed funding in the past two years.
Images courtesy of ispace.
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