There are not many industries more resistant to disruption than satellite and aerospace. The dominant firms thrive largely because of the massive capital requirements and strong government connections. Yuya Nakamura of Axelspace is confident he can change that.
Axelspace’s micro-satellites are a complete redesign of what a satellite can be, and they come in at one-tenth the weight and one-hundredth the cost of conventional hardware. Axelspace has already launched the world’s first commercial micro-satellite, and are new gearing up to launch an entire constellation of them.
Something amazing is happening in aerospace right now. After decades of, slow, steady incremental improvements, we are seeing tremendous new bottom-up development all over the world, and Axelspace is right in the middle of if it.
It’s a great conversation and I think you’ll enjoy it.
Show Notes for Startups
What is a micro-satellite
Why current satellites cost so much
What’s changing at Todai and why it’s important.
How to sell a satellite
What is driving the recent big changes in space technology
Why governments need to (mostly) change aerospace procurement
How Japan can compete in the global aerospace market
Links from the Founder
The Axelspace website
Follow Axelspace on twitter @axelspace_en
The company Facebook Page
Friend Yuya on Facebook
English Language coverage of Axelspace
Good Enough is best for Satellite Startup
Tech in Asia Profile
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Transcript from Japan
Welcome to Disrupting Japan, straight talk from Japan’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’m Tim Romero, and thanks for listening.
Most of us startup founders have it relatively easy. We choose our battles and we usually choose to compete where we can sell to businesses and customers directly and where our speed, agility, and innovation is recognized and appreciated by the market. Yuya Nakamura didn’t really have that option and even if he knew in advance what he was getting into, he would have done it again. You see, when he left Tokyo University, Yuya founded a satellite company hoping to compete in one of the most controlled closed industries on the planet. And amazingly, they’re already seeing success.
Having launched the world’s first commercial microsatellite several years ago, they now have much bigger plans for their very small satellites. Now during our discussion, Yuya and I talked about Tokyo University also known as Todai. Now people often say that Todai is Japan’s Harvard or Oxford but it’s much more than that. Over 75% of all top level bureaucrats are Todai graduates and so are a large percentage of the C-level executives of public firms. Over half of Japan’s Supreme Court graduated from Todai. Perhaps, more than anything else Todai represents the status quo in Japan. It is the gateway to the traditional power structure and that makes the entrepreneurial changes we are seeing there even more surprising. But for now, we’re here to talk about satellites. So let’s get right to the interview.
Tim: Ready to get started?
Tim: Okay. Well cheers!
I am sitting here with Yuya Nakamura who founded Axelspace to develop microsatellites. Before we get into this, why don’t you just tell us a bit about Axelspace and tell us what a microsatellite is.
Yuya: Microsatellite is an artificial satellite weighing less than a hundred kilogram and it’s very small compared to the conventional satellite, it weighs like several tons or something like that. The cost of the traditional satellite is like hundreds of millions of dollars and our satellite is inexpensive; just one percent of the traditional ones.
Tim: So it’s cheaper to produce and if it weighs 10%, it obviously costs about a tenth to launch as well right?
Yuya: Yeah, absolutely.
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