Seraphim Space Investment Trust plc, the world's first listed fund focused on space tech, has made a new $12.5 million investment into Astroscale Holdings Inc, the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits.
Astroscale closed a $109 million series F round which was led by THE FUND Limited Partnership in Japan and backed by a group of investors including Seraphim Space, Japan Growth Capital Investment Corporation and AXA Life Insurance Co Ltd.
Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Japan, Astroscale is an international business with operational subsidiaries in the UK, US, Israel and Singapore and a team of over 250 people.
In addition to developing technology, Astroscale works closely with government and policymakers across the globe to ensure licensing and regulation is put in place that will foster a sustainable Earth orbit environment.
Due to recent trends in the cost of access to space and miniaturised hardware, many well-funded businesses are expecting to launch more satellites into space in the next few years than have ever been launched before. This could lead to further proliferation of artificial debris that poses a threat on the sustainability of commercial operations in space and the future space economy.
Current mitigation measures for low Earth orbit space debris are sub-optimal and include a long-standing guideline for deorbiting satellites within 25 years. Satellites currently have a small failure rate, but with thousands of satellites being launched each year, the risk posed by hundreds of dead satellites to operating spacecrafts is increasing.
Astroscale is addressing the issues by offering on-orbit services used to transport, inspect, extend the life of and remove satellites in space to provide assurance and continuation of service for customers.
There is currently no binding international treaty regarding the mitigation of space debris. However, national licensing bodies have started to place stricter requirements on operators. In addition, several government funded awards that support debris mitigation are underway including a public-private partnership led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and OneWeb, with Astroscale selected to advance its end-of-life technology and capabilities towards a commercial service offering by 2024.
"This investment is an example of the company's commitment to ESG and impactful investment,” said Will Whitehorn, Chair of Seraphim Space Investment Trust. “Astroscale also represents the company's first investment in Asia, highlighting the global nature of our strategy to invest in emerging category leaders.”
Mark Boggett, CEO of Seraphim Space, added: "The long-term sustainable health of the space sector is becoming ever more important with tens of thousands of satellite launches planned in the coming years. Astroscale is already the category leader in the global on-orbit servicing market. Its founder and CEO Nobu Okada is credited worldwide as a key figure in galvanising the space industry into action. The ball is now firmly rolling on regulation and self-regulation to protect the space environment. We believe that now is the optimum time to invest into this emerging market that will be worth $billions over the coming decades."
Nobu Okada, Founder and CEO Astroscale, said that the G7 pledge on space sustainability and the Paris Peace Forum's ‘Net Zero Space’ declaration are part of a growing global call to take urgent action to reduce orbital debris and build a sustainable foundation for the growth of space.
“Astroscale exists to answer this call and, since our inception in 2013, we have dedicated ourselves to solving the technological, economic and policy challenges of satellite servicing to build this sustainable foundation for a thriving space ecosystem,” he said.
“Seraphim Space's investment proves Astroscale's potential to drive the on-orbit servicing sector with first-mover advantages and that investors globally acknowledge the tremendous potential for on-orbit servicing. This latest round of funding will dramatically accelerate our ability to make on-orbit servicing routine by 2030 and will allow us to pioneer safe and cost-effective space capabilities across the servicing ecosystem, expand regional facilities for mass production and support global hiring.”