How a Japanese team is crowdfunding a lunar rover

How a Japanese team is crowdfunding a lunar rover

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This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter.


The X Prize Foundation was founded by Peter H. Diamandis with the aim of developing and supporting space exploration [1]. One of participating companies in this competition is the Japanese company White Label Space. This private company independently develops Moon rovers in Japan.

White Label Space is shooting for the Google Lunar X Prize, a prize awarded by the X Prize Foundation and sponsored by Google. It began back in 2007, and in order to collect the prize money a team must land a privately-developed unmanned space probe on the surface of the moon while also meeting some other specified criteria. We’re not sure exactly how they plan to get their rover onto the moon, but the professor leading the technology development team, Kazuya Yoshida, has experience in launching satellites into space. So we’re optimistic about their prospects.

To fund the development of the company’s miniaturized rovers, White Label Space (WLSJ) launched a fundraising campaign via Campfire to pay for the production cost and testing of its prototype. Having set an initial goal of raising ¥2,000,000 (or about $22,000), they successfully gathered ¥2,301,520 by December 4, 2012.

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  1. It is supported by many of the internet’s heavy-hitters including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson.  ↩