Hakuto lunar rover model circa 2014

Hakuto (ハクト)[1] or formerly White Label Space (ホワイトレーベルスペース) was a team formed in early 2008 by a group of experienced space professionals inspired by the challenge of the Google Lunar X PRIZE to develop a robotic Moon exploration mission. Hakuto was named after the white rabbit in Japanese mythology. The team's original plan was to finance its lunar mission from advertising expenditure of large global companies and the team eventually succeeded in attracting sponsorship from multiple large brands, particularly in Japan.[2][3] The team went through a number of phases of its organisation and plans. Initially the team was primarily a European effort and led in the Netherlands. Later the team changed management and was led in Japan. At different stages of the competition the team had partnerships with two other teams (Astrobotic and then Team Indus) for the delivery of its lunar rover to the Moon's surface.

History

In 2008, White Label Space was founded in the Netherlands. In 2009, the team registered with the Google Lunar X PRIZE (GLXP).[4] Throughout the period 2008 till 2010 the team established partnerships with a number of organisations, mostly in Europe, and White Label Space continued to publish its early progress on the developments of the lunar mission[5][6]. On September 10, 2010 Japan-based members of the team established White Label Space Japan LLC, a Limited Liability Company registered in Japan.[7][full citation needed] On June 11, 2012, it was decided to name unit 2 Rover prototype (PM-2) "White Rabbit" (written in hiragana as「はくと」, which is pronounced "Hakuto").[4]

On January 30, 2013, the European team members had ceased substantial involvement and the Japan-based members decided to continue the work, establishing a new parent company called ispace Inc.[8] The change included a change of leadership from Steve Allen to co-founder Takeshi Hakamada.[9][10] Around that time the team also announced the lead engineer as Kazuya Yoshida, a professor of aerospace engineering at Tohoku University in Japan.

On July 15, 2013 the team publicly announced the change the official team name to Hakuto (「ハクト」).[1] On December 4, 2013, the team successfully crowd-funded the development of unit 3 Rover prototype (PM-3).[4]

On February 19, 2014, Hakuto was selected in the Milestone Prizes as one of five teams competing in the mobility subsystem section.[11]

Lunar Mission Plans

The team initially planned its own lunar lander[12] but later changed plan to fly on landers operated by other GLXP teams.

For most of the duration of the GLXP, the Hakuto rover was planned to be deployed from Astrobotic's the Peregrine lander, however for the final phase of the prize, with Astrobotic lacking a launch contract, Hakuto established a new agreement with Team Indus for launch and lunar surface delivery of the rover. That mission was to use the proven PSLV launcher of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Team Indus was subsequently confirmed by XPRIZE Foundation to have a valid launch contract and therefore both teams were eligible to remain in the prize beyond the launch contract cut-off date of end 2016.[13][14] The launch was initially scheduled for 28 December 2017,[15] and then delayed to March 2018.[16] However, on 9 January 2018 it was reported that ISRO had cancelled the launch contract with TeamIndus and, by extension, Hakuto.[17]

On January 23, 2018, X Prize founder and chairman Peter Diamandis stated "After close consultation with our five finalist Google Lunar X Prize teams over the past several months, we have concluded that no team will make a launch attempt to reach the moon by the March 31, 2018, deadline... and the US$30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE will go unclaimed."[18]

In April 2018, it was reported that the leadership (ispace Inc.) of the then former Hakuto GLXP team still planned to launch its rover in 2020 on the Astrobotic Peregrine lander mission, launching on an Atlas V rocket.[19] That mission would include Hakuto's Sorato rover being deployed on the lunar surface along with other smaller rovers, including Team AngelicvM's rover, and a set of mini-rovers from the Mexican Space Agency.[19] The selected landing site is Lacus Mortis.[19]

Partners

The team had different partners at different stages of the GLXP.

As of January 2008, while led from the Netherlands, the team had nine official partners:[20][needs update]

  • Advanced Operations and Engineering Services (AOES Group BV) - an international engineering services and consultancy provider providing specialist support for design and analysis tasks related to the structures, thermal and propulsion subsystems of the Lander and Rover
  • The Swiss Propulsion Laboratory - developing a low-cost engine for the landing stage of the White Label Space mission using its in-house rocket motor test bench
  • Tohoku University Space Robotics Laboratory - designing the Moon rover for the mission
  • Airborne Composites BV - a developer of advanced composite products and technologies for space and other industries, and will provide lightweight high performance composite structures for the mission
  • Emxys - a designer and manufacturer of instrumentation and control embedded electronic systems for science and industry markets [21][22]
  • Space Technology Group at the Technical University of Munich
  • LunarNumbat - a team of Australians and New Zealanders who are using Open Source technologies to develop new software and electronic hardware in support of the White Label Space mission
  • Wrocław University of Technology - developer of aerospace communications equipment
  • JAQAR Space Engineering - the partner for orbital design and mission analysis

After leadership was transferred to Japan, the team developed new partnerships. The Space Robotics Lab of Tohoku University remained an important partner[23] but a number of new Japanese partnerships were announced.

Sponsorship

By 2014, carrying through on the initial vision of the White Label Space team, the Hakuto team had succeeded in obtaining sponsorship from a number of major Japanese brands for its lunar mission. During that stage of the GLXP, which included Hakuto successfully competing in the Milestone Prices, the team displayed prominent logos for the following corporate partners on its rover and other promotional materials[24][25]:

Following on from the cessation of the GLXP the leader of the Hakuto GLXP team, ispace Inc., retained the support of KDDI, JAL and Suzuki, and proceeded to build further corporate partnerships as well as raising large amounts of venture capital funding directed towards an expanded lunar mission program (see ispace Investors). ispace Inc. later announced the development of a new rover mission, Hakuto-R is scheduled to launch in mid-2021 using the company's own lander.[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Announcement: New Team Name is "HAKUTO" Google Lunar X PRIZE, July 15, 2013
  2. ^ White Label Space team page on the Google Lunar X PRIZE site
  3. ^ Andreas Bartoloni. "Sponsors". Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  4. ^ a b c History Archived 2014-08-26 at the Wayback Machine team Hakuto, 2014
  5. ^ Andrew Barton. "Mission Concept". Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  6. ^ Allen, Steve. "Team". Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  7. ^ WLS Japanese Office Open for Business, 9 September 2010
  8. ^ The Japanese Space Bots That Could Build Moon Valley. Sarah Scoles, Wired. 14 May 2018.
  9. ^ White Label Space Moves Full Operations to Japan team White Label Space
  10. ^ チーム体制変更のお知らせ team Hakuto, 2013.1.30
  11. ^ Japan's Hakuto was selected for Milestone Prizes finalists! Google Lunar X PRIZE, February 28, 2014
  12. ^ Andrew Barton. "Mission Concept". Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  13. ^ Thompson, Amy. "India's Team Indus Just Secured a Launch Contract to Go to the Moon". Inverse. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  14. ^ "TeamIndus Announces Launch Contract with ISRO". www.planetary.org. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  15. ^ 15 Air and Space Missions We're Excited for In 2018 Popular Mechanics 6 January 2017
  16. ^ Japanese team competing in lunar probe contest to delay launch. Japan Times. 8 November 2018.
  17. ^ Google Lunar Xprize: ISRO Calls Off Contract With TeamIndus. 9 January 2018.
  18. ^ https://www.space.com/39467-google-lunar-xprize-moon-race-ends.html Ex-Prize: Google's $30 Million Moon Race Ends with No Winner]. Mike Wall, Space]]. 23 January 2018.
  19. ^ a b c Astrobiotic Ready to Become Delivery Service to the Moon. Michael Coli, Spaceflight Insider. 19 March 2018.
  20. ^ White Label Space Official Partners Page, 2008-01-01.
  21. ^ Emxys - New Partner for Electronic Systems, 27 November 2009
  22. ^ Emxys - New Partner for Electronic Systems Google Lunar X PRIZE, November 27, 2009
  23. ^ About Hakuto Team Haruko, January, 2014
  24. ^ "HAKUTO". HAKUTO (in Japanese). Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  25. ^ "Japanese Google Lunar X Prize team finds new ride to the moon". SpaceNews.com. 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  26. ^ Pietrobon, Steven (December 8, 2018). "United States Commercial ELV Launch Manifest". Retrieved December 19, 2018.

External links

  • Hakuto official website
  • White Label Space Website
  • White Label Space Japan Site
  • Space Robotics Lab of Tohoku University
  • ispace inc.