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Astroscale raises US$25 million to solve space debris dilemma

Astroscale, a space startup based in Singapore has raised a US$25 million Series C from Japanese private companies including aviation company ANA Holdings and industrial machinery provider OSG Corp.

Existing venture capital investors Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ), JAFCO Co Ltd, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, alongside new investor aSTART Co Ltd also participated in the financing which brings the total raised capital to US$53 million.

Nobu Okada, the Founder and CEO of Astroscale said, “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).”

In fact, Astroscale reported that there are approximately 750,000 space debris objects in space, which threatens satellites and spacecraft that orbit the Earth.

Established in 2013, Astroscale is a pioneering startup providing space debris removal and monitoring services that are necessary to prevent damage to space assets. It opened a research and development office in Japan two years ago, and a branch location in the United Kingdom this year.

The office incorporated in the UK will help address global market standards for an on-orbit satellite servicing, in addition to leading global partnerships and providing strategic direction and management towards further collaboration.

At present, Astroscale has two ongoing projects under active development: IDEA OSG 1, a 22-kilogram microsatellite that will monitor sub-millimeter sized debris and ELSA-d, a technology demonstration mission for deorbiting dead satellites.

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

Meanwhile, Okada commenting on the participating investors, said he is confident that ANA’s specialized knowledge on operational safety and their experience as the parent company of leading airline group All Nippon Airways Co Ltd will be essential to the company’s businesses.

He likewise notes 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.

The startup aims to make its space debris cleanup efforts into a commercial business in 2020. Its new funds will go toward establishing hubs overseas to exapand its international presence, partner with foreign space programs as well as to hire a chief operating officer for its UK branch.

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