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Q&A | Astroscale’s Chris Blackerby on turning a profit by cleaning up space

14 Sep 2017, 12:11 UTC
Q&A | Astroscale’s Chris Blackerby on turning a profit by cleaning up space
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WASHINGTON — Astroscale is creating a service the space industry knows it needs even if there’s disagreement over who should pay for it.
Removing out-of-commission satellites from orbit — including pre-planned de-orbits and unplanned but important debris removal — form the crux of Astroscale’s business plan. The company’s two satellites, Idea OSG-1 to monitor debris and ELSA-d to demonstrate de-orbit procedures, are scheduled to launch in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Idea OSG-1 is manifested on a Glavkosmos Soyuz.
Investors have backed Astroscale’s vision to the tune of $53 million, showing meaningful confidence in the four-year-old company’s ability to clean up literally and financially.
Chris Blackerby, chief operating officer, Astroscale. Credit: Astroscale.
Several of those investors, including ANA Holdings, OSG Corp. and Yuki Precision Co., are Japanese tech-powers, with skills that will help Astroscale, whose research and development center is located in Tokyo, with more than just financial support.
Chris Blackerby, NASA’s Tokyo-based attaché for five years, became the company’s chief operating officer last month. Blackerby leads Astroscale’s Tokyo office as well as global strategic development.
Astroscale numbers about 30 people between Singapore, Tokyo and London, and will be adding a few more people in the near ...

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