On-orbit service and logistics startup Astroscale has raised a $51 million Series E funding round, bringing its total raised to date to $191 million thus far. The Japan-based company has been focused on delivering new solutions for orbital end-of-life -- meaning ways to make orbital operations more sustainable by offering easy ways to safely de-orbit spacecraft after the end of their useful service life, clearing up some of the growing orbital debris problem that's emerging as more companies create satellites and constellations.
Astroscale has since expanded its mission to also include extending the life of geostationary satellites -- another key ingredient in making the orbital operating environment more sustainable as we look toward a projected exponential explosion in orbital activity. The startup announced earlier this year that it was acquiring the staff and IP of a company called Effective Space Solutions, which was in the process of developing a "space drone" that could launch to provide on-orbit servicing to large, existing geostationary satellite infrastructure, handling tasks like refueling and repairs.
ESS has formed the basis for Astroscale Israel, a new international office for the globe-spanning Astroscale that will be focused on geostationary life extension. Today's funding was led by aSTART, and will be used to help the company continue to establish its global offices and increase the team to more than 140 people.
Astroscale's end-of-life orbital debris-removal technology is set to get its first demonstration mission sometime in the second half of this year, with a launch aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. The system uses two spacecraft that find and latch on to target debris to be de-orbited.