London tech fund takes $12 million stake in engineer cleaning up space junk

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Pace Tech Fund Seraphim has picked up a $12.5 million stake in a satellite services group that is developing technology to extend the life span of Earth-orbiting satellites.

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The international team at Hong Kong-based Astroscale is building magnetic docking vehicles that have the ability to inspect, repair, rearrange or remove failed space hardware in-situ.

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It aims to reduce the growing belt of space junk accumulating in low Earth orbit as the cost of launching commercial satellites used in communications, defense and research continues to decline.

It believes that these orbital highways are already polluted with more than 23,000 pieces of debris larger than 10 cm in diameter, as well as hundreds of millions of smaller ones.

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Today’s announcement is London-listed Seraphim’s first investment in Asia, and took the amount raised in the latest round – which also includes France’s DNCA investment – to just over $100 million.

Seraphim said: “With the launch of thousands of satellites every year, the risk to the operation of spacecraft by hundreds of dead satellites is increasing.”

He believes that emerging markets will be worth billions of dollars in the coming decades.

Nobu Okada, Founder and CEO of Astroscale, said: “This latest round of funding will dramatically accelerate our ability to create in-orbit servicing routines by 2030 and allow us to advance safe and cost-effective space capabilities across the servicing ecosystem Regional facilities for mass production and global recruitment support.”

Mark Boguet, CEO of Seraphim Space, said: “The long-term sustainable health of the space sector is becoming more important with thousands of satellite launches planned in the coming years.

“Astroscale is already a category leader in the global on-orbit servicing market. Its founder and CEO Nobu Okada is credited worldwide as a key figure in energizing the space industry.

“The ball is now firmly on regulation and self-regulation to protect the space environment.

“We believe now is the best time to invest in this emerging market that will be worth billions of dollars in the coming decade.”

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