Space startup Astroscale to mass-produce cleanup satellites
Singapore-based venture snags $25m from backers including ANA Holdings
TOKYO -- Astroscale, an aerospace venture, will mass-produce satellites designed to clear debris from the skies, using a $25 million injection from companies including All Nippon Airways parent ANA Holdings and cutting tool maker OSG.
The Singapore-based startup founded by a Japanese entrepreneur aims to make its space debris cleanup efforts into a commercial business in 2020. Its new funds will also go toward establishing hubs overseas to partner with foreign space programs.
Gaining access to ANA's expertise in safe flight and OSG's in mass-production technology was highly significant, Astroscale CEO Nobu Okada said at a Tokyo press conference Friday.
Space debris is becoming more of a problem as the aerospace industry heats up. Some 750,000 pieces of junk at least 1cm in diameter, such as satellite fragments, are said to float in space and can cause major accidents if they collide with satellites.
Astroscale is ANA's second investment target in the aerospace startup sphere, following Nagoya-based space travel company PD Aerospace. Asked whether the airliner might venture into manned spaceflight itself, Senior Executive Vice President Toyoyuki Nagamine said: "We have no such plans at present, but as we've established ties with aerospace-related enterprises, we'd like to consider it in the future."