Unreasonable Impact | Bringing Space and its Data Within Reach for People Everywhere, Every Day

by Brittany Lane
Sep 7, 2017 8:40 AM ET

Axelspace is making access to space – and its data – an everyday reality with smaller, more flexible satellites. Until now, high-resolution satellite imagery has been an expensive and low-frequency service, often left to national governments. But now, with the increasingly low costs of microsatellite technology, it’s possible to provide high-frequency coverage of the entire Earth to private companies or research institutions. This company captures imagery of the entire planet’s surface with human activities once every single day, enabling things like accurate forecasts of the best harvest times and detection of illegal logging.

President and CEO of Axelspace, Yuya Nakamura, discusses how microsatellite technology will enable us to better understand what is happening on our planet, so we can work to better protect it.

What inspired you to start this company?

When I was a university student, I was fortunate enough to get involved in a student microsatellite project. No one in the world had ever built such a satellite, so the team had to create it from scratch and thus learned everything about it. The satellite was launched in 2003 and became the world’s first successful student satellite.

By the time I graduated from school, I had worked on three microsatellite projects. While many of our team members chose to work for conventional companies, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and even non-space companies, I was struggling to find a way to continue making microsatellites, particularly “practical” microsatellites for people around the world. I was unable to find such a company, though. So I thought, then why don’t I create it? I decided to start a new company with two of my colleagues.

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