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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Outer space contains an unlimited amount of resources, from Platinum and ice to Helium-3, now, as we become a space faring species our future space exploration, outposts and transportation will rely on companies who can mine and process it.

 

The Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that it is leaping into the industry for space resources and it’s agreed to work with a lunar robotic exploration company to create a blueprint for the industry that will eventually extract some of the trillions of dollars worth of natural resources from the moon, and which could one day reach further out into space and help support SpaceX’s missions to Mars.

According to a statement JAXA has signed a memorandum of understanding with Tokyo based iSpace to work on building an industry “for the mining, transport and use of resources on the moon.”

 

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Resource mining is one of the most critical challenges facing many of todays space farers, from SpaceX to NASA, because of the huge cost and burden of having to “take your fuel with you” everywhere you go. By creating this MOU JAXA hopes to be the first agency who can commercially extract Oxygen and Hydrogen from ice mined from the moon which can be turned into rocket fuel, meaning space missions could reduce heavy fuel loads and cut launch costs.

JAXA has recently been upping its game and has begun working  closely with several of Japan’s small space startup companies, most of which have received funding from both JAXA and private investors this year. Despite this though Japan’s space industry still lags behind that of other countries such as the US, particularly in the area of space resources.

In 2015 the US passed a law that gave private companies the rights to resources recovered in space and this, coupled with the decreased costs of reaching the moon which have fallen from hundreds of millions of dollars to just tens of millions of dollars today, now seem to have kick started a new great, private space race.

“Space resource development is garnering attention around the world now,” said iSpace CEO Takeshi Hakamada, “it’s very important that we work to commercialize and create rules while we still have a technological advantage globally.”

 

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iSpace also happens, conveniently, to manage the business operations for Team Hakuto, who also want to create their own space mining business and who are the only Japanese competitor for the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. Sixteen teams are competing to land a probe on the moon, move it 500 meters, and send high-definition photos and video back to earth by the end of 2017.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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