Japan provides up to $80 million subsidy to moonshot startup ispace

FILE PHOTO: A model of the lander in HAKUTO-R lunar exploration program by "ispace" is pictured at a venue to monitor its landing on the Moon, in Tokyo

By Kantaro Komiya

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan will provide a subsidy of up to 12 billion yen ($80 million) to moon exploration startup ispace as part of a grant programme for innovative ventures, industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday.

Tokyo-based ispace aims to launch its second moon lander next year and start a NASA-sponsored moonshot in 2026, following its failed first lunar landing attempt in April this year.

The Japanese government's grant will be used to develop a new spacecraft, tentatively called "Series 3", which aims to carry more than 100-kg loads to the moon's surface by 2027, ispace said in a corporate disclosure.

The grant would not have any material impact on the company's near-term earnings forecast since it relates to a future mission, ispace added. The company has expected to book a net loss of 4.5 billion yen in the current financial period ending in March 2024.

($1 = 149.8700 yen)

(Reporting by Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Robert Birsel)