ispace, a Japanese lunar space transportation corporation, is working on a bigger lunar lander design that will be produced in the United States. The lander’s design was announced at 36th Space Symposium on 23rd August by the Tokyo-based business. The lander, that is being developed by the company’s Denver facility, will launch in 2024 on the company’s third moon trip.
The payload capacity is a major distinction in the new design, according to corporate officials in interviews. The lander that ispace Jet developing for its first two flights in 2022, as well as 2023, can transport 30 kilos of payload to lunar surface, while the next lander will carry 500 kilos to the surface or even 2,000 kilograms to the lunar orbit.
“We did a thorough dive into what is already on the market and what is coming down the queue within next 5 – 10 years,” stated Kursten O’Neill, who serves as the engineering manager and program director at the ispace U.S. “We want this lander to be a part of the future of lunar exploration,” said the team.
ispace is creating the lander to withstand the 2-week lunar night, in addition to the enhanced payload capacity. The lander will land on the moon’s near side, far side, and poles, that will necessitate a communications relay capability that the business is still researching. The lander features modular accommodations that can accommodate a variety of payloads, including rovers.
The new lander, according to O’Neill, is an “evolution” of iSpace’s original, smaller landers. “There are some new things,” she said. “As you go bigger, your structure and propulsion system change, but we’ve taken a lot of knowledge and learned a lot of scientific lessons along the way.” The lander actually cleared a preliminary design assessment, allowing ispace to continue forward with more comprehensive planning. Kyle Acierno, CEO of ispace U.S., said, “Our objective is to implement this during the first part of 2024.”
The business has teamed up with General Atomics, which will handle the lander’s assembly, integration, and testing. The lander’s guidance, navigation, as well as control system are provided by Draper. The lander will be designed and produced solely in the United States, according to ispace, to compete for programs such as NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS). “Building it in the United States would make it more possible to offer it to United States government customers,” O’Neill added. Through Draper, one of 14 CLPS firms, the firm would offer lunar lander services to the NASA Agency.
Ispace has inked memorandums of understanding (MoU) with much more than a dozen potential clients for the new lander, according to Acierno, though the company has not revealed who they are. He explained, “One of the reasons we designed this larger lander is to meet the growing demand that we observe in the commercial industry.”