ispace, a company with a spacecraft en route to the moon, is now trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The Japanese firm raised around $52 million (¥6.7 billion) in an initial public offering last month. Shares reportedly went untraded on the first listing day due to a large volume of buy orders and demand to hold shares, Reuters reported. But today, shares have soared, with stock selling at ¥1,135, or more than four times the ¥254 offering price.
The news comes just days after ispace announced that its Hakuto-R lander would reach the lunar surface on April 25, a little over four months after the lander launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9. The highly anticipated touch-down will mark the first time a commercial company lands a spacecraft on the moon. ispace has back-up landing dates on April 26, May 1, and May 3, and has selected three alternative landing sites should conditions change.
If successful, the firm will join the United States, China and Russia as the only entities to have landed spacecraft on the moon.
ispace has been working on lunar technology for over a decade, officially forming into a company after operating as Team Hakuto in the Google Lunar X Prize competition. ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada told TechCrunch during a panel at TC Sessions: Space last year that it’s been a long road to launch.
“Twelve years is a long time to survive,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs.”
Through that decade plus, ispace managed to raise more than $235 million in private capital from investors including Airbus Ventures, Japan’s Incubate Fund, and former chief strategy officer of SoftBank Group Katsunori Sago. The company’s also landed partnerships with Japan’s national space agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and will deliver a rover for the agency on this first Hakuto-R mission.
ispace is already planning its second mission to the moon for next year. A third mission in 2025, which is in development with engineering giant Draper, is part of a $73 million NASA contract to deliver scientific payloads to the lunar surface. For that third mission, ispace is serving as a subcontractor and design agent.