HAKUTO Announces Partnership with Astrobotic: RIDESHARE TO THE MOON!!


HAKUTO Announces Partnership with Astrobotic: RIDESHARE TO THE MOON!!

HAKUTO has presented its plan to the moon on February 23, 2015. The meeting place was located actually…. Just in front of ‘Geo-cosmos’, the large spherical display of National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)! Below is the commemorative photo taken after the conference. We made a finger-shaped rabbit!! Hakamada-san, our leader, declared “It is not a dream any more!” in the opening movie. The moon was displayed onto the Geo-cosmos! The meeting was so nice that I get excited even if I think of it now. I’ll make a report on the progress of the meeting here. Please go together for a while.



Please also have a look at the official press-release below.





Members came together to National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)


The presentation started at 7 PM. Pro bono members started preparations from the daytime. They showed their spirits! Checking the scenario and practicing as presenters, members were full of high-spirited delight!


After the museum was closed, we set up the conference-place. It is exciting, isn’t it?


After the museum was closed, we set up the conference-place. It is exciting, isn’t it? Members came also from Sendai, making operation-checks of the rover. Sato-san, also a pro bono member, took photographs of the situation as a photography team.


The group of reporters also came together. Now, here we go!


The opening of the presentation


At first, the opening-movie was put on the screen for the first public exhibition. In the movie, wishes and hopes of members were highlighted. It’s quite cool!

Next, Hakamada-san’s greetings was moderated by Maeda-san, a pro bono member. Maeda-san was nervous! And Hakamada-san became much more nervous, didn’t he?!


Dr. Andrew Barton, the technical director of Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP), moved on the medal-awarding ceremony for intermediary achievements. The medal looks like this! It’s shinning bright!! We can read a word “Mobility” on its back slide. Hakamada-san received the medal at first. He made nice eye contact with Andrew. Then, Prof. Yoshida and the rover-development team members were also awarded.


And then, Dr. Kenji Matsuo of IHI Corporation appeared on the stage and affixed the logo-seal of IHI on the rover! He seemed to yell for HAKUTO! Ya, we can do it!!!


After that, Prof. Yoshida, the development leader, explained the mission of GLXP. During his speech, the Moonraker entered the stage.


The Moonraker was controlled by the development team beside the stage. The left half of the display showed images from the entire spherical camera. Camera-images rotated after the middle of the video, because the rover made a turn, perhaps. I hope you enjoy the atmosphere of the meeting even a little

Next, the announcement of the launch-plan!


Announcement of the launch-plan


Tah-dah! The announcement of the launch-plan! HAKUTO’s rover will ride to the moon with the lander “Griffin” of a US company, Astrobotic Technology Inc. The summary of the launch-plan is as follows;

  • • Scheduled launch date Late the year of 2016
  • • Launch vehicle ‘Falcon 9’ of SpaceX Corp.
  • • Launch site Cape Canaveral, Florida, US
  • • Lunar lander ‘Griffin’ of Astrobotic Technology Inc
  • • Scheduled landing site ‘Lacus Mortis’ on the moon

For your reference. We need a rocket carrying payloads, a lander navigating and landing at the target site on the lunar surface and a rover (*) moving longer than 500 meters on the moon surface. Initially, HAKUTO had a plan to concentrate development of lunar rovers and to procure a rocket and a lander. Studying suppliers seriously, we found that Astrobotic was the first candidate to develop lunar lander for soft-landing.

    (※)The software system ‘Mooncast’ for achieving high definition image/video data and sending them to the earth will be put in application-software for rovers and landers.

Put your eyes on the monitor in the below photo. First, we can see the introduction of Astrobotic. Astrobotic was only one team achieving all three intermediate awards (Landing, Mobility and Imaging). Quite competitive rival! The ‘Griffin’, the lander, appeared on the monitor in the below right photo. It has retro-rockets for soft landing.


Astrobotic will also procure a rocket. Its supplier is SpaceX Corp., the most aggressive space startup company! Its rocket ‘Falcon 9’ is launched to lift off (below left photo) at Cape Canaveral (below right photo). The first US satellite ‘Explore one’ was successfully launched and put into a planned orbit in 1958, here. Cape Canaveral is the right place to open the door of the new era.


Moreover, the scheduled lunar land-site is ‘Lacus Mortis’ on the moon surface. (The red mark shows the landing-site on the Geo-Cosmos!) Around the landing-site, vertical holes exist.


So, we invited Mr. John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic Technology Inc. The leader Hakamada and Dr. Thornton shake hands with each other! Rivals of GLXP become team-mates riding together to the moon! Teams participating GLXP are off course competitive rivals but also comrades realizing their same dreams!


Message from Mr. John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic

Now, John introduced Astrobotic to the audience. Astrobotic is a delivery-service company like Fedex. The destination is the moon, off course!! In the monitor, a phrase, “Lunar Delivery Services” clearly appeared. (Top left photo)

Astrobotic is the best bet for the title, achieving whole three intermediate awards. For winning the game, riding together with a rival is against its interest. But John said that he wanted the rover-racing with the whole participants in GLXP. Why? Because it must be more exciting and a fun that F1 race is realized on the lunar surface! Off course, this will become a big achievement for “Lunar Delivery Services”, the operation of Astrobotic. John want to say that It is important not only the victory of the race but also the dreams to be realized. Very impressive intention of Astrobotic, sharing the concept to make global innovations!

You can read the message from ‘Andy’ (the Astrobotic’s rover) to Tetris & Moonraker on the monitorin the above right photo as follows; To: MoonRaker & Tetris

To: MoonRaker & Tetris

Welcome aboard the Astrobotic mission. I am happy to have two superbly wired rovers joining me on the well constructed Griffin Lander. It will be a wild ride to the moon, so load up your software, sit back and enjoy the ride. As soon as we touchdown – The race is on – eat my lunar dust! -Andy


Message from Dr. Andrew Barton, the technical director of GLXP

Here comes Andrew’s speech. Dr. Andrew Barton is a certainly key-person of GLXP. His contributions were praised with these words, ‘No Andrew, no such large progress in GLXP during this year’. He often visits by himself experimental sites of HAKUTO and other teams’. Andrew gave a message as following;

” Good Evening, I’m very pleased to be here for this important announcement by these two teams.

We must explore the moon to answer many scientific questions. We need to learn how it formed and to understand how its minerals are distributed and concentrated. We don’t know yet exactly what the moon will bring us. We have to go there to find out.

The moon’s surface is as large, as big as one of the earth’s continents, but we’ve only visited a tiny fraction of it. To explore such a large area we need small, agile robots that can operate remotely in the moon’s hostile environment. Team Hakuto with its small advanced robots will be one of the leaders in this new and exciting quest.

The Google Lunar XPRIZE is just the beginning. When we know more about the moon we can establish permanent bases there and start to bring back the resources for use by humanity here on earth or to support our astronauts in space.

Team Hakuto has chosen to focus on the challenges of robotically moving about the surface but they need transportation to reach the moon. Astrobotic will provide that transportation service. Although the trip to the moon is short, it takes less than one week, the landing is very difficult. As we saw Astrobotic has already made advanced progress on their landing system and so is an ideal partner for team Hakuto.

We are already familiar with this kind of commercial joint venture here on earth. In the news recently you might have seen that our sponsor Google decided to join the financial company Fideltiy in an investment of 1 billion dollars in the rocket launch company SpaceX. These kinds of large commercial investments are starting to become common in the rocket launch business and for satellites orbiting earth. Today’s announcement by these two Google Lunar XPRIZE teams shows that commercial enterprise is now expanding into deep space beyond earth orbit as well.

This is exactly the kind of breakthrough that XPRIZE foundation is trying to stimulate and is one of the main reasons we established this prize. The time has come for commercial investment in space exploration and Hakuto and Astrobotic will be among the leaders of this new market.”

Wonderful speech! A lot of thanks, Andrew!!


Final commemorative photo

Finally, commemorative photo was taken. Whole speakers present here!

IMG_5719 From the left in this photo, we can see Dr. John Thornton (CEO of Astrobotic Technology), Prof. Kazuya Yoshida, Dr. Takeshi Hakamada (Leader of HAKUTO), Dr. Kenji Matsuo (IHI Corp.) and Dr. Andrew Barton (Technical director of Google Lunar XPRIZE).

After the meeting, HAKUTO members had personal interviews and took a lot of commemorative photos together!





This time, we have made a lot of participants know about steady progress for the mission goal. We will keep making efforts with inspired passion to the moon. Please continue your support for HAKUTO, thank you!! (written by Mano, translated by Kojima) IMG_5901