Japan’s space agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), has selected two companies, Space BD and Mitsui & Co., to handle commercial services relating to satellite deployment from the International Space Station (ISS).
The two companies will handle the commercial processes involved in deploying small satellites from Japan’s Kibo module on the ISS. This is part of JAXA’s plan to commercialize its services, and to promote private sector participation in the nation’s space industry.
So far, JAXA has handled commercial projects directly, and has charged a fee for its deployment services. These deployments have been carried out using indigenous JAXA-developed technologies, namely, a robotic arm and the Kibo airlock, which allow deployments of satellites of up to 50kg each. The system, known as Japanese Experiment Module Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD), has successfully deployed more than 200 satellites, as of May 2018.
The Kibo module also houses the privately-owned NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer, which might be used by Space BD and Mitsui & Co., – Space BD has announced that it has already concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NanoRacks, in order to form a strategic partnership promoting Japan-US use of the ISS.
Said Masa Nagasaky, CEO & Founder of Space BD, “The vision of our business is to contribute to the commercialization of Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and for this reason, we are extremely grateful to be selected as the first commercial service provider for the ISS Kibo module, which is going to play a crucial role in our business. We will further accelerate the commercial use to maximize the value of this important Japanese asset.”