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Japanese microsatellite startup Axelspace secures $23M series B round

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese microsatellite startup Axelspace annoufnced on Friday that it has raised about 2.58 billion yen (about $23 million US) in a series B round. This round was led by “31 Ventures – Global Brain Growth I”, the joint venture fund by Mitsui Fudosan (TSE:8801) and Global Brain, with participation from INCJ (previously known as Innovation Network Corporation of Japan), UTokyo Innovation Platform (investing about $2.7 million US), SBI Investment, and Dai-ichi Life Insurance. For Axelspace, this follows their series A round back in September of 2015. The latest round brings their total equity funding to-date to 4.5 billion yen (about $40 million US). Axelspace was spun off from the University of Tokyo and incorporated as a company in 2008. The company has been developing small and inexpensive satellites weighing some 60 kilograms, and launched satellites outsourced from Japanese weather company Weathernews (TSE:4825). Leveraging these low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Axelspace plans to collect weather and terrain data to sell to governmental organizations and private businesses. The company has postponed the launch of its GRUS first satellite which was initially planned back in 2017, but unveiled at this time it will be launched on December 27th…

Image credit: Axelspace

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese microsatellite startup Axelspace annoufnced on Friday that it has raised about 2.58 billion yen (about $23 million US) in a series B round. This round was led by “31 Ventures – Global Brain Growth I”, the joint venture fund by Mitsui Fudosan (TSE:8801) and Global Brain, with participation from INCJ (previously known as Innovation Network Corporation of Japan), UTokyo Innovation Platform (investing about $2.7 million US), SBI Investment, and Dai-ichi Life Insurance.

For Axelspace, this follows their series A round back in September of 2015. The latest round brings their total equity funding to-date to 4.5 billion yen (about $40 million US).

Axelspace was spun off from the University of Tokyo and incorporated as a company in 2008. The company has been developing small and inexpensive satellites weighing some 60 kilograms, and launched satellites outsourced from Japanese weather company Weathernews (TSE:4825). Leveraging these low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Axelspace plans to collect weather and terrain data to sell to governmental organizations and private businesses.

The first model of the GRUS satellite
Image credit: Axelspace

The company has postponed the launch of its GRUS first satellite which was initially planned back in 2017, but unveiled at this time it will be launched on December 27th by Soyuz from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

In 2015 the company announced AxelGlobe, the earth observation infrastructure which will provide imagery of more than half of the planet’s dry land once every single day. In pursuit of better turning that idea into reality, the company appointed their co-founder and managing director Naoki Miyashita as CTO, and also named their marketing manager and business development expert Yasunori Yamazaki as CBDO (chief business development officer) at this time.

Japan’s Axelspace gets $15M series A funding to boost satellite and remote sensing businesses

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See the original story in Japanese. Japanese startup Axelspace has been developing small and inexpensive satellites weighing some 60 kilograms. The company announced today that it has fundraised about 1.8 billion yen ($15 million) in a series A round. This round was led by Global Brain with participation from Energy & Environment Investment, SMBC Venture Capital, SBI Investment, Japan Science and Technology Agency, SKY Perfect JSAT (TSE:9412), Seibu Shinkin Capital, and Mitsu & Co. Axelspace will use the funds to launch three small earth observation satellites and start a remote sensing business in 2017. The company will collaborate with SKY Perfect JSAT to operate satellites, and with Mitsui & Co. to develop satellite image businesses. Axelspace was spun off from the University of Tokyo and incorporated as a company in 2008. The company has launched satellites outsourced from Japanese weather company Weathernews (TSE:4825). They will launch three satellites in 2017, and then 10 satellites every year from 2018 to achieve a remote sensing network of 50 satellites circling the globe. Leveraging these low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Axelspace plans to collect weather and terrain data to sell to governmental organizations and private businesses. Compared to geostationary satellites at 36,000 kilometers above…

axelspace_featuredimage

See the original story in Japanese.

Japanese startup Axelspace has been developing small and inexpensive satellites weighing some 60 kilograms. The company announced today that it has fundraised about 1.8 billion yen ($15 million) in a series A round. This round was led by Global Brain with participation from Energy & Environment Investment, SMBC Venture Capital, SBI Investment, Japan Science and Technology Agency, SKY Perfect JSAT (TSE:9412), Seibu Shinkin Capital, and Mitsu & Co. Axelspace will use the funds to launch three small earth observation satellites and start a remote sensing business in 2017. The company will collaborate with SKY Perfect JSAT to operate satellites, and with Mitsui & Co. to develop satellite image businesses.

Axelspace was spun off from the University of Tokyo and incorporated as a company in 2008. The company has launched satellites outsourced from Japanese weather company Weathernews (TSE:4825). They will launch three satellites in 2017, and then 10 satellites every year from 2018 to achieve a remote sensing network of 50 satellites circling the globe. Leveraging these low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, Axelspace plans to collect weather and terrain data to sell to governmental organizations and private businesses.

Compared to geostationary satellites at 36,000 kilometers above the equator, LEO satellites can capture detailed images and data because of their closer distance to the ground. However, these satellites have a downside in that operators cannot always view the area they want at all times due to the orbital motion. Operating a multitude of satellites can solve the problem, but it will cost more because more satellites will be needed. With a system of small and inexpensive satellites, Axelspace could revolutionize the remote sensing industry.

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Edited by Kurt Hanson

Japan’s ‘little satellite that could,’ 27cm³, launches into space

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Our readers may remember a feature that we did on Japan’s Weathernews (TSE:4825) back in April. The company has made a major business in the area of weather information, and now has offices in 27 cites across 13 countries. Recently the company has been working to develop a sort of ‘polar routing’ service, to help marine traffic navigate icy Arctic waters. To date, they have relied on data from government satellites, but in order to get their service going they need a dedicated satellite. To that end, Japanese startup Axelspace has been enlisted to help with the project, as a company offering micro-satellites whom Weathernews deemed preferable to outsourcing to the government or a large manufacturer. They’ve produced an ultra-compact satellite that is 27 cubic centimeters, and weighs just 10kg. Dubbed the WNISAT–1, the tiny satellite launched today from Yasny Cosmodrome in Russia, piggybacking on top of a Dnepr–1 rocket [1]. According to the Axelspace blog this evening the launch was successful, and the satellite’s signal was successfully received. It is expected to pass over Japan at 20:40 tonight. The device will make 15 orbits of the earth every day, equipped with optical and infrared cameras, which it will use…

wnisat-1
Image: Weathernews

Our readers may remember a feature that we did on Japan’s Weathernews (TSE:4825) back in April. The company has made a major business in the area of weather information, and now has offices in 27 cites across 13 countries.

Recently the company has been working to develop a sort of ‘polar routing’ service, to help marine traffic navigate icy Arctic waters. To date, they have relied on data from government satellites, but in order to get their service going they need a dedicated satellite.

To that end, Japanese startup Axelspace has been enlisted to help with the project, as a company offering micro-satellites whom Weathernews deemed preferable to outsourcing to the government or a large manufacturer. They’ve produced an ultra-compact satellite that is 27 cubic centimeters, and weighs just 10kg. Dubbed the WNISAT–1, the tiny satellite launched today from Yasny Cosmodrome in Russia, piggybacking on top of a Dnepr–1 rocket [1]. According to the Axelspace blog this evening the launch was successful, and the satellite’s signal was successfully received. It is expected to pass over Japan at 20:40 tonight.

Ground control at WN headquarters
Ground control at WN headquarters

The device will make 15 orbits of the earth every day, equipped with optical and infrared cameras, which it will use to take shots covering 500km² of the Arctic Seas ice. These images will be sent back to Weathernews’ own Global Ice Center where they will be analyzed and put to use as part of their polar routing system. It’s expected that the WNISAT–1 will have a lifespan of one to three years.

As a provider of micro-satellites, Axelspace is an interesting company. They’re capable of producing these tiny satellites at a fraction of the cost, also using just a fraction of the development time necessary with conventional satellites. They design their satellites specifically to their customer’s needs as well, which is another competitive advantage.

Amazingly, this is not the only startup to venture into space recently. Back in October we’ve also seen San Francisco-based startup Elysium Space roll out its space burial service here in Japan, following its initial US-launch in August.

[Written with contributions from Tsutoha Izumisawa]


  1. The launch was originally intended to take place back in September, but was postposed until today.  ↩