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Interstellar Technologies signs deal with JAXA for launch transport services

This agreement is established in accordance with JAXA-SMASH, a programme aimed at expanding transportation and small satellite missions.

Interstellar Technologies Inc. has inked an agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to provide launch transport services. This strategic collaboration aims to select private-sector entities capable of launching satellites developed under JAXA’s small satellite missions, propelling the commercialisation of space transportation services by startups and other entities through launch contract procurement.

The agreement aligns with JAXA’s initiative to secure approximately 30 domestic launch opportunities annually by the early 2030s, utilising both government and private rockets. In response, Interstellar remains committed to advancing autonomous domestic space access through the ongoing development of the rocket ZERO, prioritising reliability and cost competitiveness.

Established under JAXA-SMASH (JAXA – Small Satellite Rush Programme), this agreement targets the expansion of transportation and small satellite missions. Interstellar has been designated as “Launch Operator A,” positioning the company as a priority recipient for future procurement contracts.

In accordance with Japan’s new Space Basic Plan, approved by the Cabinet in June 2023, the government aims to launch all domestic satellites using either Japan’s flagship rockets or private rockets by fiscal year 2028. This initiative not only focuses on meeting domestic demand but also seeks to capture overseas opportunities.

Interstellar’s selection for the “Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR Phase 3)” by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in September 2023 further underscores governmental support for research and development in the space sector. This support extends to launch contract procurement, aiming for the early realisation of affordable, frequent private space transport services domestically.

ZERO, Interstellar’s smallsat launch vehicle, targets the burgeoning market for small-sized satellites. Leveraging insights from the successful launch of the private suborbital launch vehicle MOMO, Interstellar is advancing toward the first launch of ZERO. The service distinguishes itself with competitive pricing—under 800m JPY per launch in mass production—enabled by an integrated development and manufacturing process. Its flexibility to provide customised launches tailored to satellite companies’ needs enhances overall value.

Takahiro Inagawa, CEO of Interstellar Technologies, said: “JAXA-SMASH presents an innovative opportunity for demonstrating cutting-edge technology with satellites to break through these limitations. We are honoured to be part of it, bringing our space transport services to the table. Looking ahead, we anticipate a substantial increase in space transport opportunities domestically. However, we’re all hands on deck, pushing ahead with technology demonstration and business development, ready to seize the day in this new era.”