Japanese venture capital firm aStart Co Ltd has raised 3.8 billion yen ($36 million) for its second fund that will focus on space technology, according to a company statement.
Space Tech No. 2 Fund brings the company’s total funds under management to 11.5 billion yen ($109 million).
The fund made its first investment — $191 million in the Series E round of Astroscale, a Japanese startup that develops satellites to remove space debris from Earth’s orbit — on October 14. Investors in the funding round also included Hulic Co Ltd, I-Net Corp, Shimizu Corporation, and SPARX Space Frontier Fund.
aStart said the fund’s initial close was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic but the successful first close underscored the rising interest of investors in space technology.
The Japanese VC firm now operates four funds: Tech Fund No 1 (2015), Tech Fund No 2 (2018), Space Tech Fund No 1 (2019), and the latest Space Tech Fund No 2.
The latest fund’s initial close comes as the Japanese government is working to boost a venture capital market for space startups, according to a recent Nikkei Asia report. Japan, it added, is exploring the profitable side of space with efforts to build up an ecosystem for space-related startups, from launching rockets to providing satellite-based services for businesses.
Last week, Astroscale also raised an additional $51 million from a group of investors to become the most funded space venture in Japan. The company seeks to develop new technology and work with policymakers to ensure space debris issues are addressed.
Astroscale reported that approximately 750,000 space debris objects over one centimeter in diameter exist in space, threatening satellites and spacecraft that orbit the Earth.
Founded in 2013, Astroscale’s goal as a space company is focused on securing long-term spaceflight safety by providing space debris removal services.