Singapore: Space debris removal startup Astroscale secures $25m Series C

Photo from Astroscale's conference to announce its Series C funding. Source: Astroscale website

Private companies ANA Holdings Inc (ANA) and OSG Corp have backed a $25-million Series C round in Singapore-headquartered Astroscale Pte Ltd, bringing the firm’s total raised capital to $53 million.

Recurring venture capital investors Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ), JAFCO Co Ltd, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, alongside new financier aSTART Co Ltd, also participated in the round.

ANA is the parent company of All Nippon Airways Co Ltd, while INCJ is a public-private investment company that provides financial, technological and management support for next-generation businesses.

Founded in 2013, Astroscale’s goal as a space company is focused on securing long-term spaceflight safety by providing space debris removal services.

The company said the latest investments position itself to further expand its international presence, leadership, and competitive standing.

Astroscale founder and CEO Nobu Okada expressed confidence that ANA’s specialized knowledge on operational safety and their experience as a leading airline group in the global market will be vital to the company’s business.

Okada likewise noted that OSG, a global manufacturer of cutting tools for various industries automobile and aerospace included, will not only supply high quality instruments but will also contribute to the mass production of space debris removal satellites.

“Along with existing financial investors, we welcome private companies who support Astroscale’s vision and missions as investors for the first time in Series C. This funding commitment indicates the growing international awareness that space debris must be confronted in order to safeguard future space use and advance discussions on Space Traffic Management (STM),” Okada said.

Astroscale recently incorporated an office in the United Kingdom to address global market standards for on-orbit satellite servicing. It launched its corporate headquarters in Singapore in 2013, and R&D office in Japan in 2015.

The company will appoint a new group chief operating officer (COO) to lead global partnerships and provide strategic direction and management towards further collaboration.

Astroscale has two missions under active development: the IDEA OSG 1, a microsatellite that will monitor sub-millimeter sized debris, and the ELSA-d, a technology demonstration mission for end-of-life service management of defunct satellites.

IDEA OSG 1 and ELSA-d, which are scheduled to be launched in early 2018 and the first half of 2019, respectively, will monitor and remove debris from orbit in order to contribute to a more sustainable space environment.

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.

“The establishment of services to monitor and track rapidly proliferating sub-millimeter sized debris as well as to remove such objects from orbit is an urgent necessity to mitigate potentially catastrophic damage to space assets,” Astroscale said in its statement.

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