Japanese Tech Company Goes into Space
The Japanese technology market is booming. A strong economy, government support for tech startups, and the potential for huge growth makes Japan a fertile ground for a new tech company. In 2019, Interstellar Technologies(1), a Japanese NewSpace company, took advantage of these tech advantages and found success that is, quite literally, out of this world.
The first commercial Japanese rocket reaches space
In May last year, Interstellar Technologies became the first private company in Japan to launch a rocket into space. The launch took place in Hokkaido, where the Interstellar team sent a rocket named Momo more than 100km (62 miles) into the air. The rocket was petite, just 10m by 50cm in size (33ft by 20in), weighing 2000lb. The moment the rocket passed the Kármán Line – the internationally recognized boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and outer space – it broke a record. Momo became the first commercially produced rocket to successfully reach space!
Momo was carrying a 44lb payload when it made its successful trip and the Interstellar team hopes to eventually offer communications companies a low-cost alternative for launching small satellites into space. If they are successful, the work of this tech company could revolutionize Japan’s presence and influence in space.
How did Interstellar achieve this incredible feat and how did the Japanese government and tech industry help them?
Who are Interstellar Technologies?
Interstellar Technologies was founded by Takafumi Horie, also known as Horiemon, in 2013. Horiemon is famous in Japan for his entrepreneurial efforts that include fraud scandal involving his previous company Livedoor. Yet the company now known as Interstellar Technologies(2) has a history that goes even further.
The heart of Interstellar Technologies formed in 1997, when a group of space technology hobbyists known as Natsu no rocket dan began looking seriously at rocket design. This group became a corporation in 2003 and, a decade later, received serious investment from Horiemon.
The tech company is moving closer to its aim to develop a commercially-viable, low-cost rocket that can carry the world’s satellites into space at a discount rate. Work on Interstellar’s ZERO orbital rocket is already underway. By 2023, the startup plans to have the ZERO orbital rocket, capable of delivering a 100kg (220lbs) payload 500km (310 miles) into space by 2023.
Why Japan is the best country for tech startups
Known around the world as an innovator in areas as diverse as robotics, AI, life sciences, and consumer electronics, Japan is an exciting place for tech startups.
Japan’s love for the newest consumer electronics and open attitude towards new technologies makes it a great place to launch a tech company. Crowdfunding is big in Japan. Excitement about new Japanese tech companies can translate into more willingness to fund them and many startups have raised funding through platforms like Kickstarter(3). Before June 2018, Interstellar Technologies raised around ¥30 million (about USD $250,000) through crowdfunding.
However, the majority of funding for Japanese tech startups comes from corporate investment. According to this report, ispace, a Japanese space resource exploration company, raised $90 million from corporations over the last three years, the largest amount in Japanese startup history.
All this investment in tech startups is linked to a recent shift in the way Japan does business. Since 2013, “Abenomics”–the nickname given to Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe Administration’s economic growth policy–has stimulated the economy. With more capital floating around in the market, big corporations can invest more heavily in the work of organizations like Interstellar Technologies. The same administration’s 2016 Science and Technology Basic Plan outline’s Japan’s ambition to create a Society 5.0(4). In this super-smart society, technology will drive out inequalities in Japanese life, connecting citizens through solutions like IoT technology.
It’s an ambitious but inspiring aim that is sure to strike a chord with many tech startups looking for their big break.
Because of these changes and evolution of the Japanese society and industrial landscape, Japan is the perfect country for IT-related companies to not only expand their business but also to visit and see the technology for themselves. With more and more IT companies heading towards Japan for an incentive trip or conference, the country is turning into one of the most popular locations to host one’s event as well as giving your workforce or clients the chance to immerse themselves in the local industries. Hosting your conference within the country that is a leader in the respective industries is bound to inspire your researchers in achieving the greatness your company is chasing.
4 eubusinessinjapan.eu, “Report: Society 5.0 strategy in Japan”