Completed product development for space demonstration and expanded commercial pipeline by receiving new orders from private and government clients.
Pale Blue Inc., (Head Office: Room 610, Tokatsu Techno Plaza, 5-4-6 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan; CEO: Jun Asakawa) is pleased to announce that it has raised 4.1M USD in a Series A round of funding. In addition to the existing investors, Incubate Fund KK and MITSUI SUMITOMO INSURANCE Venture Capital Co., Ltd., new investors, SPARX Innovation for Future Co.,Ltd. and KURONEKO Innovation Fund LP, a CVC fund jointly managed by Yamato Holdings, Inc. and Global Brain, Inc Ltd, joined in this Series A round. In addition, a loan agreement of 180k USD was concluded with the The Shoko Chukin Bank, Ltd. in conjunction with this procurement. In addition, we were entrusted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) with the fiscal 2020 supplementary research and development for space development and utilization (development of small satellite constellation-related elemental technology (propulsion system technology)) (maximum budget for the first year: 2.6M USD). As a result, the cumulative amount of funds raised is approximately 8.8M USD.
Since its founding, Pale Blue has been selected by JAXA as a demonstration theme for its Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Flight No. 3 (theme: On-orbit demonstration of an integrated micro-propulsion system using water as a propellant), selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for its FY2020 Aerospace Science and Technology Promotion Fund (theme: Development of an integrated water propulsion system for the era of high-power nano-spacecraft), and selected by NEDO for its FY2020 Seed Phase of Commercialization Support for R&D Startups (STS) (theme: Development of an integrated water propulsion system for nano-satellites mega-constellations). The team has expanded from four members at the time of establishment to 19 members. (As of October 28, 2021)
Pale Blue has been promoting several space demonstration projects of miniaturized water propulsion systems in cooperation with universities and research institutes, and has recently completed the development of flight models of miniaturized water propulsion systems for various projects. The number of orders from private companies and the government is increasing. In the future, we will continue to conduct space demonstration tests, mass production, and promote new research and development for new businesses.
We plan to use the funds raised to expand our international team, increase our production capability, and invest in new research and development. Through these efforts, we will facilitate widespread adoption of water-based micro-propulsion that is safe, sustainable, and affordable. By helping to establish new mobility infrastructure in space, we will contribute to sustainable space development around the Earth and beyond.
Outline of Fund Raising
Series A Funding Amount
Management Company: Incubate Fund KK
Management Company: SPARX Innovation for Future Co., Ltd
(YMT-GB Investment Limited Partnership)
Management Company: Yamato Holdings Co., Ltd, Global Brain Co.
Management Company: MITSUI SUMITOMO INSURANCE Venture Capital Co., Ltd.
180k USD (The Shoko Chukin Bank, Ltd.)
Comments from investors
Yusuke Murata, General Partners, Incubate Fund
“In just over a year, Pale Blue has grown tremendously in every aspect of its business, including its team, R&D, and business development, to the point where it can be considered one of the leading space startups in Japan. We have been able to develop to a level where we can be named as one of the leading space development-related startups in Japan. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the company’s growth as its running mate.”
Shinichiro Kengaku, President, SPARX Innovation for Future Co., Ltd
“2020s will be the decade in which the use of satellites will solve many of humanity’s problems, and we expect Pale Blue contributes to the expansion of satellites by bringing unprecedented operability and flexibility to space exploration with nano-satellites new frontier for the new-space industry in Japan.”
Takaaki Adachi, Senior Manager, Innovation Promotion Function, Yamato Holdings Co., Ltd
“Evolution of propulsion systems, a key component of rockets and satellites, is becoming extremely important factor for the space industry. Pale Blue’s early efforts to develop products from an eco-clean perspective have a strong relationship with our goal of realizing a sustainable and prosperous society, and we look forward to working together to create the future”
Eigo Aoki, Director/Space Evangelist, Global Brain Corporation
“I’ve been following the management team at Pale Blue since before the company was founded and have been impressed with the speed of growth. Pale Blue has the technical, price and environmental strengths to be the leader in this market.”
Hiroaki Hirai, Partner, Investment Development, MITSUI SUMITOMO INSURANCE Venture Capital Co., Ltd.
“Congratulations on your successful Series A round of financing and on being selected by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to develop elemental technologies related to the small satellite constellation (propulsion system technology). We are confident that your proprietary propulsion technology will become a key technology to support the global space industry and small satellite market from Japan.”
Small Satellite Constellation Related Elemental Technology Development (Propulsion System Technology) from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
In recent years, the space industry is undergoing a game change as there is a growing trend to build a “small satellite constellation” that aims to increase the amount of satellite data and create new added value by operating a large number of small satellites in an integrated manner. Today’s small satellites are often not equipped with a propulsion system due to cost and weight. On the other hand, the lack of a propulsion system makes it impossible to choose the desired orbit when launching in a shared orbit with a large satellite, reduces the orbital altitude due to gravity and aerodynamic drag, shortens the satellite’s life span, and increases space debris because it is impossible to dispose of a satellite that no longer functions due to its life or failure. As the missions of small satellites become more advanced and the requirements for debris countermeasures become stricter, the performance of propulsion systems must be further improved.
Considering these circumstances, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has invited applications for the development and demonstration of a small, lightweight, safe, low-cost, and modular propulsion system that has thrust and total thrust suitable for orbit control of a 100 kg class small satellite constellation and that can be installed in a variety of satellites. The budget for the first year is 2.6M USD. A total of four applications were received, and as a result of a review by a third-party committee of outside experts, Pale Blue was awarded the contract.
Product Development Status
Pale Blue offers three types of miniaturized water propulsion systems
In order to accumulate space experience, which is one of the important evaluation indicators for satellite components, Pale Blue has been promoting several space demonstration projects in cooperation with universities, research institutes and private companies, including the installation of demonstration equipment on JAXA’s Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Flight No. 3. We have completed the development of flight models for all three types of propulsion systems mentioned above, and are now ready for space demonstration. While awaiting launch of the demonstration vehicles, Pale Blue will expand its development and manufacturing capability by end of November, and will proceed with product development for mass production and new research and development that will further enhance our technical offering.
About Pale Blue Inc.
Pale Blue is a University of Tokyo-originated startup established in April 2020 with the aim of realizing sustainable space development and utilization based on micro-propulsion system that uses water as a propellant. Prior to its establishment, the company received support from the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s (JST) program for the creation of new industries from universities (START), and after its establishment, it received support from the University of Tokyo’s IPC 1st Round, an entrepreneurship support program sponsored by the University of Tokyo’s Co-Creation Platform Development Corporation. After founding the company, the company received support from the University of Tokyo IPC 1st Round, a program to support entrepreneurship sponsored by the University of Tokyo Co-Creation Platform Development Co.
Company name: Pale Blue Inc.
Location: Room 610, Tokatsu Techno Plaza, 5-4-6 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan
CEO: Jun Asakawa, Ph.D.
Establishment: April 3, 2020
Business activities: Research, design, testing, manufacture, and operation of spacecraft and propulsion systems
For media inquiries regarding this release, please contact
Pale Blue Corporation (Contact: Asakawa)