JAXA Takes Step Toward Lunar Mining

jaxalogoJapan has taken a first step toward developing a lunar mining industry.

Japan is leaping into space resources, agreeing to work with a robotic-exploration company to create a blueprint for an industry to extract resources from the moon that would enable more extensive space exploration.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Japanโ€™s space agency, said Friday that it signed a memorandum of understanding with Tokyo-based ispace technologies Inc. to work on building an industry โ€œfor the mining, transport and use of resources on the moon,โ€ according to a statement by ispace. A spokeswoman for the agency, known as JAXA, confirmed the agreement….

Ispace manages business operations for Team Hakuto, 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.

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  • ThomasLMatula

    I guess, like the U.S. and Luxembourg, Japan has concluded space mining is legal under the OST. The rush is starting ๐Ÿ™‚

  • ThomasLMatula

    Here is a link to the press release since you need a subscription for the WSJ article.


  • P.K. Sink

    Yeah…the people who argue that mining outer space resources is somehow illegal or immoral should have their medication increased.

  • Vladislaw

    From the I-Space website:


    With a combination of micro-robotics, adoption of COTS and an agile development scheme, ispace is not only minimizing the development cost and time, but also constantly increasing its product quality.”

    It was interesting to see COTS mentioned. I have said that other Nations have to move forward with more of that rather than the government monopoly model

  • ThomasLMatula

    Sadly its the same old “Limits to Growth” folks who co-oped the climate research and made it so political. Folks forget one of justifications used for nuclear power by the AEC in the 1960’s was reduction of CO2 to reduce the risks of global warming. But some folks just don’t like solutions that take humanity to a higher level of technology and increase global wealth.

  • Insane in the membrane.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Details! Details! Details! It’s always the details and reality that throw out all those obstacles that kill dreams.
    Japan needs energy? Yes.
    Japan would like to avoid importing more oil and gas and avoid the curse of plutonium? Yes yes yes.
    Japan would love to gather Helium-3 from the lunar regolith and haul that precious fusion fuel back to Earth for its future energy needs? Yes, but…
    Japan has not come anywhere near starting a realistic experimental fusion reactor capable of producing net power; and they need something that’s more than experimental for their energy needs ASAP.
    And, oh yes, JAXA needs to develop and build HLV’s that can loft at least 100T into LEO, 35-40T to the Moon. Details details details.

  • ThomasLMatula

    A good scientist always does historical research in their subject area first. I guess you prefer to skip that part of it which is why you think Al Gore and the Democrats discovered global warming. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • windbourne

    Need to develop underwater mining equipment as well to simulate working on asteroids. They will be far more important than the moon.

  • This is pretty basic but you can start your research here.


    It won’t make you less insane, but it might make you more informed.

  • Tom Billings

    “And, oh yes, JAXA needs to develop and build HLV’s that can loft at
    least 100T into LEO, 35-40T to the Moon. Details details details.”

    Excepting that the Japanese can “buy a ticket” on Falcon Heavy, or New Glenn, or Vulcan, or, ……

    We need not believe that any one country must do it alone.

    “Japan would like to avoid importing more oil and gas and avoid the curse of plutonium? Yes yes yes.”

    That era is passing the day the DoE starts developing LFTR tech and other 4th generation nuclear projects, potentiated in less than 5 weeks from today. Thorium need not generate Plutonium at all.

  • Tom Billings

    Probably better to go straight to asteroid mining equipment. Use 2016 HO3 as the nearby testbed, and develop space manufacturing at EML-1 from its resources.

  • windbourne

    I think that they mean Common-off-the-shelf stuff, not NASA’s COTS.

  • windbourne

    and this is why FH, followed by BFR, will be BIG THINGS shortly.

  • windbourne

    Ok, |
    1) limits-to-growth ppl have done NOTHING with climate research.
    2) CO2 was not known in the 60s to impact climate change, so the AEC would NEVER have cared.

    3) agree with you last line. Sadly, it is both far right and far left that is killing us.

  • ThomasLMatula

    All you do is have to compare the solutions to global warming – live poorer – and the groups advocating them to see the link.

    Also the connection between CO2 and the climate was first identified in the 1930’s. FYI


    Callendar, G. S. (1938) “The artificial production of carbon dioxide and its influence on temperature”, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

    The AEC was aware of the link and funded the creation of the CO2 monitoring station in Hawaii for that purpose. If not for the anti-science, anti-technology environmentalists who took over conservation movement in the 1970’s with their anti-nuke views there would be a lot less carbon in the atmosphere today. They don’t want solutions to global warming, they want folks to return to a “natural” subsistence lifestyle.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Pity you did not use it for your research as it is a good link.

    But it misses some key publications such as Willy Ley’s “Days of Creation” from 1941 where he introduced the idea to the general public. Isaac Asimov also had an essay “No More Ice Ages” in the January 1959 issue of Fantasy Science Fiction on the need to build nuclear power plants to counter global warming.

    It’s why I accepted it as occurring in the early 1970’s and saw advancements in technology, like nuclear power as the solution.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The water would be a problem as many of the best solutions will involve explosives and leveraging the vacuum.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Commercial-Off-The-Shelf is the actual term.

  • So in your world science fiction and fantasy trumps science.

    That makes perfect sense.

  • windbourne

    Well, I can not find anything that shows that AEC funded that or even new about it.
    However, I do agree with you about the far left.
    They have done a lot of damage.
    As I have said all along, the far right and far left are destroying America.

    And these days, the far left seems to have little issues with china doing 1/3 to 1/2 of the CO2 while screaming about America with less than 14%.
    And the BS about America’s accumulation is just that; BS.

  • windbourne


  • ThomasLMatula

    Sadly much of that history is in the pre-web paper archives. I ran across it when I was doing the literature review for a survey on the Waste Isolation Project in New Mexico on the origins of the fear of nuclear power.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Sadly many folks have forgotten the key role Isaac Asimov had in educating the public on science, especially after Sputnik. His monthly science column was collected into books that used to be bought by school libraries because of his ability to make science issues clear to the public. This particular essay was included in his book, “Fact or Fantasy” in 1962.

    Maybe if you had read some of them you would have had a better idea of what science actually is, a mode of knowledge generation that works better for some fields than others, and not blindly worship it.

  • Planetary astrophysics (of which climate science is a part) is a hard science field involving all aspects of hard science and therefore science works very well with it. You are the insane crank here, not climate scientists, physicists all.

    And it’s the 21st Century now if you haven’t noticed. I was educated in the very best post-sputnik elementary school in the nation, a few miles from the very best world class research university. I got the Bourbaki math in the first grade, we got the entire history of science and classical engineering mechanics all before the fifth grade when Nixon took office and dismantled the entire post-Sputnik paradigm.

    Your an insane crank. I say that with confidence and authority.

  • ThomasLMatula

    So you think someone that accepted global warming in the 1970’s is crank. I thought you accepted global warming, but it sounds like you don’t since you call me a crank for accepting it, so I guess that makes you another climate change denier…

  • Dr. Matula, it is Doctor, is it not? Dr., I read the peer reviewed literature. Extensively. I am current on the peer reviewed literature in this field and many others that interest me, not everything, of course, but the main points that are important and other points that interest me as scientist.

    And I have been current on the literature since the 70’s. So I don’t accept anything. I strive to understand the fundamentals, the big picture, and enough to argue finer points. I’m sorry the world looks so black and white to you.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Its fun to study something to the nth degree, but eventually you need to take action on it. Otherwise it is just Sophism.That is the difference between the ivory tower and the real world.

  • The hard sciences are hardly ivory tower, Dr. Matula. You need to understand that you are debating physicists intimately familiar with their fields of expertise, current with the peer reviewed literature with numerous laboratory, field and project and even program experiences. For instance, right now you are debating a theoretical physicists who recognized the essential reality and magnitudes of the problems early on, and then immediately set about to demonstration of the viability of the primitive solar and wind power infrastructure of the day to easily power sailboat and island home habitats, well before those products were ultimately commercialized, and now in the modern era, industrialized.

    Verner Suomi et al. My advice to you, don’t speak black and white with someone who is capable of seeing in full color.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, reject that evil nuclear power that was available to solve it then, instead embrace solutions that took 40 years to develop while you keep adding CO2 from burning that coal and oil.

  • Some very influential CEOs assured me that nuclear power would be too cheap to meter and that three nuclear reactors would never melt down simultaneously straight into the ocean.

  • ThomasLMatula

    If they hadn’t had to keep them open years longer than planned because of environmentalists they would have been mothballed already. And if the environmentalists hadn’t blocked nuclear waste storage facilities for decades they wouldn’t be storing those spent fuel rods onsite. Radical environmentalists making the world better ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Oh boo hoo woulda shoulda coulda.

    As if radical environmentalists forced the to build on the shoreline of a major active fault zone, as if radical environmentalists had anything to do with it at all.

    Classic republican, blame the environmentalist, not the industrialists, You are blind to your insane nuttery as well.

    Insane in the membrane..