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Lunar startup ispace’s shares untraded in Tokyo debut amid glut of buy orders

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Hakuto-R Mission 1 from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Dec. 11, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Paul Hennessy | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Shares of lunar transportation start-up ispace went untraded in their market debut in Tokyo early on Wednesday, as bids overwhelmed offers.

The company, which has a probe already en route for the moon, raised 6.7 billion yen ($50 million) in an initial public offering (IPO) last month.

Shares of ispace were bid at 436 yen as of the morning break on the Tokyo exchange’s growth market, 72% above their IPO price of 254 yen. The stock has an upper price limit of 585 yen, according to the exchange.

The start-up, which has a contract with NASA to ferry payloads to the moon from 2025 and is targeting building a permanently staffed lunar colony by 2040, aims to be the first commercial company to land a probe on the moon.

In December, its Hakuto-R Mission 1 lunar lander was launched aboard a SpaceX rocket that took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying two robotic rovers.

NASA's Artemis mission launches successfully, begins long-awaited journey to the moon

ispace said in a statement on Wednesday that it expected the lander to touch down on the moon’s surface at 1640 GMT on April 25, at the earliest. The vehicle is currently orbiting the moon at an altitude of 100 km.

In February, ispace said its lander reached its farthest distance from Earth and, despite minor technical hitches during the moonshot, was on track for a landing attempt later this month.

If successful, it will mark the first ever lunar landing by a private company. Only the governments of the United States, Russia and China have nailed such a feat, with landing attempts by India and a private Israeli company ending in failure in recent years.

The company had intended to raise around 6 billion yen in the offering, but later boosted the size of the share sale. The IPO price was the top of its indicated range of 234 yen to 254 yen.

It sold 26.5 million shares in the increased IPO. There was a greenshoe option of up to 1.2 million shares. With 80.4 million shares outstanding, the company would have a market capitalisation of about 47 billion yen should the shares rise by their daily limit.



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