A computer-generated image of the ispace-U.S. relay satellites


DENVER, Colo. – ispace technologies U.S., inc. (ispace-U.S.), an American lunar exploration company, today announced the official launch of a new data relay service enabled by two relay satellites that are expected to be deployed during ispace-U.S.’s Mission 3 scheduled in 2026. The launch service is expected to be provided by SpaceX. The details were released at the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium 2024 Spring Meeting hosted by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.


The two lunar relay satellites will enable communications to and from the Earth, and the APEX 1.0 lunar lander, which is expected to touch down in the Schrödinger Basin on the Lunar Far Side, a large impact crater near the Moon’s South Pole. The lander is designed to support the Draper-led Commercial Lunar Payload Services Task Order CP-12 by delivering and operating NASA payloads to the lunar surface for scientific investigations. The relay satellites will be deployed into lunar orbit by the APEX 1.0 lunar lander prior to landing.


At the conclusion of the scientific investigations, the satellites will circularize into a High Circular Polar Orbit (HCPO) with near-global coverage with linger points at the polar regions. For Lunar South Pole landing sites, both relay satellites are expected to offer more than 70 percent simultaneous visibility of the lunar surface and the Earth, providing potential data service users with a significant opportunity to utilize such data.


The company expects that relay satellites, which are expected to stay in orbit for several years and operate beyond ispace’s Mission 3, would enable and enhance future lunar missions by providing data that complement information gathered by lunar surface or lunar orbital payloads, as well as potentially contributing to improved edge processing and fusion of onboard or remote payload data. RTX’s (NYSE: RTX)’s small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider, Blue Canyon Technologies, will design and manufacture two Venus-class microsatellite buses that will serve as a platform carrying lunar communications relay capabilities.


ispace-U.S. is currently in discussion with companies and organizations for payload transportation services to be provided on the APEX 1.0 lunar lander for Mission 3. ispace-U.S. is engaging in conversations with potential customers who may wish to utilize the relay satellite’s capability for a variety of purposes such as technology demonstrations, including potential alternative Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services.


The schedule for Mission 3 is as of April 2024 and is subject to change.



About APEX 1.0 Lunar Lander

ispace’s APEX 1.0 lunar lander, designed to be one of the most capable lunar vehicles available, serves as the company’s next-generation lander. The APEX 1.0 lander, designed and built in the U.S., is expcted to have enhanced capabilities leveraging lessons learned from the  previous lander model, which was used for Mission 1. With a payload capacity of 300 kgs to the lunar surface, APEX 1.0 is designed to deliver ten times more payload to the lunar surface compared to earlier ispace missions. ispace-U.S. plans to progressively increase the APEX series payload capacity to meet evolving customer requirements, eventually reaching payload capacity of 500 kg to the lunar surface. This highly capable design also provides APEX 1.0 with the ability to transport orbital, stationery, and rover payloads to either the near or far side of the Moon. With advanced structural durability, reliability, and manufacturability, APEX 1.0 is expected to make consistent quality and performance at scale possible.


About ispace technologies U.S.

ispace – U.S. is an American lunar exploration company providing transportation and infrastructure capabilities from Earth to lunar orbit and the surface of the Moon for government and commercial customers. ispace believes that the utilization of lunar resources is the catalyst to enabling human permanence and economic opportunity on and around the Moon and is committed to achieving this goal. The company’s U.S. headquarters serves as the central location for the development of its APEX 1.0 lunar lander, which is being designed, manufactured, and launched in the United States. In partnership with Draper, this lander will deliver a suite of multiple NASA-sponsored science payloads to the lunar surface as part of the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Initiative.

ispace – U.S. CEO, Ron Garan, is a former NASA Astronaut and a leading voice in the space industry. His executive team includes professionals that have served at the highest levels of the United States space program. For more information, visit