Edinburgh / Tokyo, 8 November. – Japan-based global lunar exploration company ispace, has received a license from the Japanese government to conduct business activity on the Moon as part of its first lunar mission, the company said. The approval is the first granted under Japan’s Act on the Promotion of Business Activities for the Exploration and Development of Space Resources (Space Resources Act).
ispace is planning to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket later this month. Under the license, the company has permission for Mission 1 operations, during which it will transfer ownership of space resources to NASA. Namely, ispace will transfer the regolith it collects to NASA as a first case of commercial space resource utilization.
ispace was awarded a NASA contract in December 2020 to acquire lunar regolith and sell it to the space agency. The collected material will become the property of NASA under the Artemis program but will not be returned to Earth.
In addition, NASA awarded a second contract to ispace’s subsidiary ispace EU, to acquire lunar material during it HAKUTO-R mission in 2024.