Startup Astroscale is Building a Business Aimed at Cleaning up Space Debris

Space debris. Credit: Astroscale/Shutterstock.

Space debris is an issue that’s not going away. In fact, it will get worse before it might get better. For Astroscale, an Asian startup based in Singapore and Japan, that spells business opportunity while doing humanity a favour.

Astroscale has raised $102M US to date for its business case which is to help in the removal of orbital debris through the provision of End of Life and Active Debris Removal services.

The company isn’t going to clean all of the debris that plagues us today, but it is taking steps to build a company that could be positioned to make an impact on future debris and possibly existing debris.

Astroscale was founded in 2013 by Nobu Okada, a tech entrepreneur with no experience in the space sector. He wanted to bring his start-up mentality to the space sector and address the problem of orbital space debris.

The company is working to get its first mission, ELSA-d, consisting of two spacecraft, a Chaser (~150 kg) and a Target (~20 kg), launched by 2020. According to Astroscale “the chaser is equipped with proximity rendezvous technologies and a magnetic capture mechanism, while the target has a docking plate which enables it to be captured. The Chaser will repeatedly release and capture the Target in a series of technical demonstrations proving the capability to find and capture debris. Demonstrations include target search, target inspection, target rendezvous, and both non-tumbling and tumbling capture. ELSA-d is operated from the National In-orbit Servicing Control Centre Facility in Harwell, UK, which is being developed by Astroscale as a key part of the ground segment.”

My guest today on the SpaceQ podcast is Chris Blackerby, the Chief Operating Officer of Astroscale. We discussed why Astroscale created, what its plans are and how they’re being executed.

Listen in.

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About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 18 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 25 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.