Jan 30, 2013

White Label Space Moves Full Operations to Japan

Media Contacts:

For White Label Space
Takeshi Hakamada
Phone: +81-(0)80-3276-1330

For X PRIZE Foundation
Eric Desatnik
Phone: 310.741.4892

White Label Space Moves Full Operations to Japan to
Pursue $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE

Tokyo, Japan (January, 30 2013) - White Label Space, an international team competing in the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, announced that it will now be run out of Japan. Previously, the team was operating out of both Japan and the Netherlands.  The team’s pivot to Japan is designed to maximize its chance of being on the winner’s podium. White Label Space is the only Google Lunar X PRIZE team currently active in Japan and has a unique network in that country’s media and space industry. The team will now focus its efforts on furthering the development of its Japanese moon rover, benefiting from the advice of its academic partner, the Space Robotics Laboratory at Tohoku University.

Takeshi Hakamada replaces Steve Allen as team leader. Mr Hakamada was a co-founder of the team’s Japan branch and has been manager for all White Label Space operations in Japan.
Former team leader Steve Allen comments “It's been a fantastic journey and a privilege to work with so many talented space enthusiasts. Since its establishment, the Japanese branch of the team has gone from strength to strength and now it’s clear that the future of the team lies in Japan. I would like to thank all of our friends and supporters who’ve brought us this far.”

Also stepping down from his role is Dr. Andrew Barton, who was the team’s Chairman. “With under three years left until the expiry of the prize, the focus is now shifting to those teams with access to the lunar surface. Unfortunately, our efforts to develop a lunar lander in Europe were unsuccessful but flying a rover as piggyback on somebody else’s lander is still a great chance to win second prize and will make a big difference by inspiring millions of people”, commented Dr. Barton.
The Japanese branch of the team was established in 2010 with support from Tohoku University’s professor Kazuya Yoshida, an internationally recognized expert in space robotics and rovers. In 2011, the branch announced its plans to the Japanese public with a press conference in Tokyo that attracted extensive coverage in the national media. Throughout 2012, the team continued its promotion work in Japan, running a series of successful educational and public outreach events including ‘The Rover Challenge’, a traveling hands-on learning opportunity for school children.

White Label Space is one of 23 teams around the world competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, the largest incentivized competition offered to date. White Label Space officially joined the Google Lunar X PRIZE in May 2009. The team’s name originates from the concept of a “White Label” product, which is a generic brand developed by one company and then sold to another brand. White Label Space sees the Google Lunar X PRIZE as the beginning of the next wave of space exploration where the common person can be engaged as a contributor and not just a spectator. White Label Space was initially founded the team in 2008 by a group that included former employees of the European Space Agency. Visit www.whitelabelspace.com for more information.

The $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE is a global competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a privately-funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high definition video and images back to Earth. The first team to do so will claim a $20 million Grand Prize, while the second team will earn a $5 million Prize. Teams are also eligible to win a $1 million award for stimulating diversity in the field of space exploration and as much as $4 million in bonus prizes for accomplishing additional technical tasks such as moving ten times as far, surviving the frigid lunar night, or visiting the site of a previous lunar mission.  For more information, go to www.googlelunarxprize.org.

Founded in 1995, the X PRIZE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the leading organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself.  The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity.  The X PRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in five Prize Groups: Education; Exploration; Energy & Environment; Global Development; and Life Sciences.  Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE presented by Express Scripts, the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE, and the $2.25 million Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE.  For more information, go to www.xprize.org.  


Dec 8, 2012

Crowd Funding Campaign Successful

White Label Space's Japan office has successfully run a crowd funding campaign to support the team's rover development. The crowd funding campaign was run on the Japanese website campfire, which is broadly equivalent sites in other countries such as kickstarter.

The campaign raised a total of 2.4 million yen (US$30,000) and offered its supporters goodies such as
photo albums, stickers, T-shirts, a mini-rover kit, an invitation to a rover test-driving event or naming rights on the prototype.

The preparations took around 2 months, from the first planning meetings until the project was published on the campfire website. The video below (in Japanese) was specially produced to promote the campaign. In it, Takeshi Hakamada describes the team's GLXP effort and also points out the special significance of the competition's long-term vision to Japan.

The campaign was online for a total of 60 days and in that time accumulated financial contributions from 284 supporters. Most of the money raised will go to the construction costs for the new prototype rover model.

The team is considering running even bigger and more ambitious campaigns in the future but the team hopes that the success of this campaign will already lead to new potential sponsors.


Nov 22, 2012

Greatest Space Ads - Telstra Provides Rocket Fuel for Smartphones

Australian telecommunications company Telstra has chosen an agile little rocket vehicle (complete with hover capability) as a mascot for the roll-out of its 4G network.

Rocket fuel is a well-known symbol representing speed and power. The rocket vehicle showing the shape of the letters "4G" zips around the screen of a TV ad (we will try to find online link to the video) and can also be seen in the background of the magazine ad below.


Nov 7, 2012

Open Source Servo Driver for Rockets

Luke Weston from our partner Lunar Numbat has kicked off an interesting open source hardware project called OpenServoDrive. This is a high-power servo driver for a pair of DC brush motors and will be used in the throttling mechanism for the valves on our lunar lander's main engine.

 This open source hardware projects consists of just a single Printed Circuit Board (PCB) which is relatively compact, lightweight, inexpensive, and fully open source without any dependence on a closed commercial product. The PCB plugs directly into both DC motors, the 60V power supply, the two rotary encoders on the backs of the motors, the CAN, and a 12-24V power supply (supplied on the CAN loom) and provides the motor control. The new open hardware has equivalent functionality to the Rutex R2020 board when mated to a custom interface board previously designed and tested by Luke. The PCB layout is not finished yet but you can see the board's schematic in the project's github repository.

 The first use planned for the hardware is on the AUSROC2.5 sounding rocket, and it could also be used for any other applications where precise servo control of two large high power brushed motors is desirable, for example large CNC plotting, engraving etc. machines. Partnering with open source developers on projects such as this one is a key strategy of White Label Space to help reduce the costs of our GLXP mission, and to help make space more accessible for the everyday experimentalist and entrepreneur.

Oct 16, 2012

Video: Electrical System Test for Rocket Prototype

We managed to snap this is a brief video last week while doing some testing of the electronics for our bi-propellant liquid rocket motor prototype.
The electronics are now fully operational and from now our efforts will focus on final integration of the plumbing and the thrust measurement system.