January 27, 2017 About Supporting HAKUTO, a Japanese Private Lunar Exploration Project

Kazuhito Kidachi

We recently announced that we have become a supporting company of the ispace, inc., directed HAKUTO mission, Japan's first private lunar exploration project.

HAKUTO is the only team from Japan participating in the US-based XPRIZE Foundation's Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, the world's first robot lunar surface exploration race. With private funding alone, the winner is the first to land a rover on the surface of the moon, travel a distance of at least 500m, then transmit high resolution images and videos back to earth … this is a most fantastic yet ambitious challenge, therefore, we, as a company, and together with our stakeholders, have decided to actively support the mission.

A second reason is that we identify with the venture spirit of ispace, inc., the company behind team HAKUTO. Firstly though, what is the venture spirit? There may not be a uniform definition, however, I believe the venture spirit is the embracing of risk while working on creative and innovative businesses to make society better, richer. Our company, now established over a quarter century and with 360 employees, embraced the venture spirit, and currently, I believe, ispace, inc. are doing the same.

A third reason for our support is that the IT industry and the space development industry have a naturally close relationship. Just by reading the name “Google Lunar Prize”, it can be deduced that Google is the sponsor. Two further prominent examples are SpaceX, a leading the US private space exploration company, founded and led by Elon Musk, the founder of the predecessor to major online payments service PayPal, and Blue Origin, which is independently developing its own rockets, founded by Jeffrey Bezos, ecommerce site Amazon's founder and CEO. Whether space development or IT, both fields share the ability to attract people fascinated by new possibilities and, while embracing a pioneer spirit, seek to bring about change in society.

Finally, the fourth reason is accessibility, one of the fields that we emphasize in communication design. The challenge taken on by team HAKUTO and efforts of ispace, inc. are aimed at expanding access to the moon as well as the solar system beyond. We, through appropriate website design, development and operation, seek to ensure accessibility, so that anyone, regardless of age, device or presence of disability, can access online content.  Even though we're both working in different areas, we have the shared mission to maximize accessibility. Based on this, as part of our contribution as a supporting company, we plan to provide our technical expertise to improve the accessibility of the HAKUTO project website.

Even though I wrote "finally" in the preceding paragraph, there is actually a further reason for our support. To tell you the truth, I was at one time involved as a volunteer (now known as “pro bono”) with a project team named "White Label Space", this was the former name of what has now become the HAKUTO project.

Back when our office was located in Square Tower, after receiving company approval, we offered the use of our seminar room to the initiative for a weekend - accordingly we participated in the meeting.  In this Column, I'll spare you an explanation of my motives for participating as a volunteer with White Label Space – otherwise this entry will become too long! Anyway, my work with them is something that existed in the past. At the end of last year, we established a new relationship to provide support.

So, after spending considerable time writing our reasons for becoming a supporting company, is there any chance of HAKUTO winning? Of course, I believe they have a good enough chance! Certainly, to win, the team will likely have to overcome many hurdles. However, from a technical perspective, I know that the performance of HAKUTO's rover will ensure it holds its ground against the other teams. Provided they can land on the surface of the moon without incident, they should surely accomplish the Google Lunar XPRIZE mission.

Whenever I look up at the moon in the night sky, I want to know that there is a rover up there that was part of a mission we supported … I strongly believe that such days will come, and we, as a supporting company, would like to do our bit.

For more information on our services, timeframes and estimates, as well as examples of our work, please feel free to be in touch.