Startup Ispace’s mission to commercialise the moon
Ispace is a Tokyo, Japan-based startup focused on enabling lunar exploration.
Back in November of last year, we heard the company’s CEO speak at , one of the largest tech conferences. Takeshi Hakamada, CEO and founder, spoke about the business opportunities private lunar missions presented to non-space companies, saying: “Ispace is developing robotic spacecraft to provide transportation services to space agencies, and then to commercial companies. Our vision is to extend human life into outer space.”
Our strength is to utilise Japanese production technology to lower the mass of the hardware, as much as possible. That enables us to lower the cost of missions and increase their number.”
The company’s first mission is planned to launch in 2022, with a second set for 2023.
Recently, the company announced a , taking its total funding to over $120mn. The round was led by Incubate Fund, alongside Space Frontier Foundation, Takasago Thermal Engineering, and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company.
In , Takeshi Hakamada said: “This new investment and launch of our new lunar data offering concept will not only support the steady development of ispace’s business, but will also prove that ispace can lead globally in the development of the lunar economy, expanding humanity’s presence into space and creating a more sustainable world.”
Ispace said it would use the funding to continue its mission to build a commercial lunar lander, capable of frequent and low cost deliveries to the moon.
It also concurrently announced a business platform known as “Blueprint Moon”, which it said would help to apply the lunar data it connects into applications for potential customers including space agencies, universities and private companies.
The move comes alongside a boom in private space companies, with SpaceX successfully sending and returning astronauts to the International Space Station aboard its craft.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”