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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Astroscale, which fixes and extends the life of satellites in orbit, raises $51 million

Astroscale prepares its satellite for the ELSA-d (End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration) mission.


Satellite services and debris removal specialist Astroscale on Tuesday announced it closed a $51 million round of funding, bringing its total investment to $191 million to date.

“This makes Astroscale the most funded satellite servicing and logistics company globally, and the most funded space venture company in Japan,” CEO Nobu Okada said, speaking virtually at the 2020 International Astronautical Congress. “To be honest, the COVID-19 era is tough. We’ve been quite busy in ensuring employees’ health and we had to be reassess all the business aspects, including stabilizing the supply chain, but it seems like we are doing good.”

Astroscale’s latest fundraising came from a group led by venture fund aSTART, joined by investors Hulic, I-NET, SHIMIZU Corp and SPARX Space Frontier Fund.

Based in Toyko, Japan, but with subsidiaries in multiple countries including the U.S., Astroscale is working to develop cost-effective methods of servicing satellites in orbit, as well as removing old spacecraft and debris. Founded by Okada in 2013, the company now has more than 140 employees as it looks to pioneer new space technologies in orbit. Astroscale’s satellite servicing focuses on extending the life of large satellites that can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to replace. Citing an independent valuation, Astroscale said that the orbital satellite servicing market is estimated to generate more than $4 billion in annual revenue by 2028.

Additionally, Astroscale seeks to develop new methods of removing debris and old spacecraft from orbit. Its End of Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission will be its first time showing how its technology could capture and remove debris from orbit. ELSA-d is scheduled to launch before the end of the year on a Russian Soyuz 2 rocket.

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