Singapore-based space debris removal firm Astroscale has secured $50m in funding as part of a Series D financial round led by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ).

The group of investors is led by INCJ, and including funds operated by SBI Investment and Mitsubishi Estate, bringing the total amount of capital investment to $102m.

Astroscale is expected to use the funds to support the development of its first debris capture demonstration mission called End of Life Services-demonstration (ELSA-d),

Due to launch in early 2020, ELSA-d will feature two spacecraft, Chaser and Target, stacked together.

During a series of demonstrations, Chaser will repeatedly release and capture Target to confirm the validity of the technology required for debris removal, including rendezvous and docking and proximity operations.

“This latest round of funding represents a strong vote of confidence in Astroscale’s mission and will allow us to accelerate our position as the global market leader in the field of debris removal.”

Around 750,000 pieces of space debris over 1cm in diameter are estimated to be floating around the Earth, posing risk to spacecraft in orbit.

The new fund is expected to allow Astroscale expand its presence across the globe, helping its plans to establish an office in the US next year.

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Astroscale founder and CEO Nobu Okada said: “The recognition of how to address the threat of space debris has changed drastically in the five years since Astroscale was founded.

“Government officials and the private sector are now ready to support debris removal as a business.

“This latest round of funding represents a strong vote of confidence in Astroscale’s mission and will allow us to accelerate our position as the global market leader in the field of debris removal.”

As well as developing technology for debris removal, Astroscale is involved in establishing global best practices and standards to support future in-orbit servicing activities.

With around 60 employees, Astroscale currently has presence in Japan, the UK and the US.