Scale model of Astroscale's Space Debris Removal Satellite ELSA-d on display at the 35th Space Symposium at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 10, 2019. Credit: Keith Johnson/SpaceNews

SAN FRANCISCO — Astroscale Holdings Inc. raised $51 million in a Series E investment round, bringing total funding for the Tokyo-based orbital debris removal startup to $191 million.

With the latest investment, Astroscale becomes “the most funded on-orbit services and logistics company globally and most funded space venture in Japan,” Nobu Okada, Astroscale founder and CEO, Oct. 13 said during the virtual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) 2020.

“Our multiple funding rounds are a testament to the power of Astroscale’s vision of space sustainability,” Nobu Okada, Astroscale founder and CEO, said in a statement. “This latest series will allow us to continue developing the technologies that will lead the debris removal and on-orbit servicing market.”

Astroscale plans to demonstrate its debris-removal technology through a self-funded mission to low Earth orbit, called End-of-Life Service by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d). The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA also awarded Astroscale a contract to inspect a spent Japanese upper stage  in a mission that could lead to a follow-on contract to capture the rocket stage and move it out of orbit.

Astroscale’s E round was led by aStart Co. Ltd., a Tokyo venture capital firm, with participation from Hulic Co. Ltd., I-Net Corp., Shimizu Corp. and Sparx Space Frontier Fund.

Founded in 2013, Astroscale currently employs 140 people on five continents.

Astroscale Japan is focused on ELSA-d. Astroscale U.K. is leading the development of the In-Orbit Servicing Control Centre – National Facility, the operations hub for satellite servicing missions. Astroscale U.S., and new Astroscale subsidiary, Astroscale Israel, “are focused on satellite servicing research and developing a mission for life extension of geostationary satellites,” according to the news release. Astroscale also has an administrative office in Singapore.

“We are going to have the world’s first end-to-end debris removal mission, ELSA-d, quite soon,” Okada said at IAC. “We are on to launch toward the end of the year.”

Astroscale spokesman Dave Hebert told SpaceNews that an official date has not yet been confirmed.

“We are waiting to hear updates from the launch vehicle provider regarding the official date,” Hebert said by email.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...