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How Dancing Satellites from Japan Will Clean Up Outer Space

By Tim Romero: Serial startup founder in Japan and indomitable innovator

There are a lot of aerospace startups in Japan these days. We are seeing innovation in everything from component manufacturing to satellite constellations to literal moonshots. All of those, however, depend on the ability to place new satellites in orbit, and that is getting harder and harder due to the ever-increasing amount of orbital debris. It's simply getting too crowded up there. Nobu Okada founded Astroscale to solve this problem. Today we sit down and talk about his solution, and we also dive into the very real political and financing challenges that have prevented this problem from being solved. In many ways, the removal of space debris of a classic Tragedy of the Commons problem. Everyone agrees that it is an important problem that should be solved, but no one wants to spend their own money to solve it. Well, Nobu and his team have developed a business model that they believe will be able to address this problem.  It's an innovative and important approach. And yes, we also talk about dancing satellites. It's a great conversation, and I think you'll enjoy it. Show Notes What is this Kessler Syndrome and why do we need to worry about it Why dreams of being an astronaut did not work out Why aerospace startups need their own manufacturing facilities How to bring down a satellite The trigger leading world governments to finally get serious about space clean up What are your options when your satellite fails to launch The single biggest risk in the space debris removal business Why there are so many aerospace startups in Japan recently Links from the Founder Check out Astroscale and watch the dancing satellites for yourself Friend them on Facebook Follow Nobu on Twitter @nobuokada Leave a comment Transcript Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero and thanks for joining me. There are a surprising number of new aerospace startups in Japan and today, you will be meeting the founder of one of the most innovative one. Nobu Okada founded Astroscale to solve the problem with space debris. You see, every year, we are putting more and more satellites into orbit, and it’s gotten kind of crowded up there. There are zombie satellites that we have lost control over and there are satellites that have collided, resulting in thousands of small pieces of debris zipping around in random orbits at thousands of miles per hour, just waiting to crash into other satellites and begin a chain reaction. Well, Nobu and the team want to do something about that. They have a plan to start de-orbiting this debris, and the technology side is fascinating. I mean, you might think that you have no real desire to know how to de-orbit a satellite, but trust me, you want to know how to de-orbit a satellite. It is really that cool. Of course, Nobu and I cover much more than the technology. A big part of the story is how Astroscale has begun to build international recognition and consensus, and how they have actually constructed a business model around debris removal, and we also talk about the forces driving the sudden growth of aerospace startups and talk a bit about dancing satellite, but you know, Nobu tells that story much better than I can, so let’s get right to the interview. [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1404"  info_text="Sponsored by"  font_color="grey" ] [Interview] Tim: We are sitting here with Nobu Okada, the CEO and founder of Astros scale was cleaning up space, so thanks for sitting down with us. Nobu: It is a great pleasure to meet with you and thank you for this great opportunity to be on your podcast. Tim: I’m delighted to have you, and I’ve got to say, Astroscale is not like your typical startup. You have a really unique mission, so can you kind of explain what your vision is and what you are trying to do? Nobu: Our mission is to secure long-term space flight safety by removing the s...

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