Japan’s Infostellar raises $7.3M in series A for satellite antenna sharing platform

The Infostellar team and investors

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Infostellar, the Japanese startup developing and offering an antenna sharing platform for satellite operations, announced today that it has secured $7.3 million in a series A round. This round was led by Airbus Ventures with participation from Weru Investment, D4V plus Sony Innovation Fund as well as two existing investors, FreakOut Holdings and 500 Startups Japan. Following the latest fund inflow, Infostellar has appointed Dr. Lewis Pinault, Managing Investment Partner for Airbus Ventures in Japan, to their company board.

Infostellar claims that it will use the funds to expand its network of partner antennas participating in the StellarStation antenna sharing platform and hire additional talented team members. For the company, the latest round follows their seed round raising 60 million yen (about $545,000) back in October of 2016 and securing a grant worth 51.24 million yen ($465,000) from ICT Innovation Creation Challenge Program run by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC).

While the usage of commercial satellites has risen sharply, satellite owners are facing a problem that requires the building of several base stations on the ground to interact with a satellite because one base station can interact with a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites for only 40 minutes four times a day due to orbital motion. By partnering with multiple base station owners, Infostellar aims to build a sharing platform of base stations for satellite owners. For base station owners, during the time when they are not able to use their antennas to interact with their own satellite, they can rent out these antennas to other satellite operators through the platform.

How StellarStation works

Every satellite or station typically adopts their unique and different communication protocol, but Infostellar allows satellite owners to use third party base stations by standardizing the protocol through cloud- and hardware-based data format/signal conversion technologies. Since many of these LEO satellites are non-geostationary, the company can assign an available time slot and a base station to a satellite owner by calculating which satellite will be located within the coverage of which station. Base station owners will share user charges.

Infostellar completed a prototype back in January this year, subsequently partnering with base stations owned by universities in Ghana, Taiwan, Mongolia and Thailand in March with the aim of rolling out a full-scale service commercially by next spring.

Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy