Spotlight: Space BD – a commercial focus for the modern space industry


This article is a profile of Space BD, and was developed in collaboration with the company.

Space BD on satsearch

About Space BD

Space BD is a space services and operations company founded in 2017 and based in Tokyo, Japan, with a vision to play a major role in transforming space into a growing commercial industry.

The company’s primary services include:

  • Smallsat launch and deployment services,
  • In-orbit demonstration (IOD) services for satellite components, and
  • The international import and procurement support of satellite components and hardware.

In particular, Space BD has become a market leader in the smallsat launch service segment in Japan, particularly for customers carrying out smallsat development projects, such as space start-ups, universities, regional governments and public organisations.

A dedicated commercial team

We spoke with Ryuichi Sato, Space BD’s European representative, to find out more about the company’s history, services and future plans. He explained that;

“Most entities in the space industry specialize in one thing, and there’s often a need for someone to fill in the gaps.”

“For example, start-ups have technical expertise and regional governments are good at establishing policy initiatives, but they might lack the commercial know-how and strategic viewpoint to coordinate the activities and grow them into sustainable businesses and programs. That’s where Space BD comes in.”

Ryuichi explained that the Space BD team consists of business development professionals with extensive experience in diversified areas, as well as satellite engineers and mission managers for launch campaigns.

“We help lower the barriers for companies developing innovation by providing one-stop solutions to various commercial and regulatory challenges that they face, so that the experts can fully devote themselves to their technology development.”

The Space BD team

A few members of the experienced Space BD team.

Space BD’s smallsat launch services

The smallsat sector is one of the fastest growing areas of the space industry and there is a substantial market for proven launch solutions.

For Japanese satellite manufacturers and operators Space BD offers a unique launch proposition due to its long standing partnership with the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA.

In just over one year, Space BD has secured as many as 16 contracts for its CubeSat deployment service from the International Space Station (ISS), putting it in a leading position in the nanosatellite launch market in Japan. As Ryuichi explains;

“As part of our smallsat launch service we provide a deployment service from JAXA’s “Kibo” module on the ISS. Since we were selected by JAXA in May 2018 to be the official commercial service provider, several launch campaigns are currently underway. The first satellite for our customer, “AQT-D” developed by the University of Tokyo, was just launched on September 25th, 2019. AQT-D will demonstrate water-based propulsion system.”

“We have regular and flexible deployment slots once a quarter and we take care of all the documentation and technical integration for the required safety assessments. We also provide logistics services for the satellite hardware in order to offer a complete package solution to our customers. “

In-orbit demonstrations and supply chain support

The second major operational service provided by Space BD is an in-orbit demonstration service on the ISS. The company was selected by JAXA in early 2019 to be the only commercial service provider for i-SEEP, the external platform on the JAXA “Kibo” module. Space BD has already begun providing the service to Satlantis, a Spanish start-up company, which aims to demonstrate their high resolution optical camera in-orbit. Ryuichi describes the service as follows:

“Customers can attach satellite components and observation instruments to gain valuable in-flight heritage and get to TRL of 7, 8 or 9. This is of particular importance for space start-ups and SMEs to obtain market acceptance.”

Space BD also offers various other solutions in the space supply chain including procurement and import support for purchasing overseas space components and hardware, business development and market analysis, and project management. As Ryuichi puts it;

“We can handle all the nitty-gritty, business aspects of any space technology development project.”

Kibo module, Space BD
An image of the Japanese Experimental Module (JEM) “Kibo” and the external platform (copyright JAXA).

What makes Space BD unique?

We asked Ryuichi what makes Space BD different from other solutions providers seeking to support the development and implementation of new space technologies for third-party clients; he explained:

“There are three main things that make Space BD unique. Firstly, we are a space services company – we don’t own or develop hardware but instead provide services to facilitate aspects of the space supply chain and remove obstacles inhibiting developers. As a service provider, we are expanding the space market by making it easier to access space through improvements in the launch service quality.”

“Secondly there is the strength of our team – Space BD has a unique team consisting of top-level personnel in business development, sales as well as engineering with different backgrounds, from both space and non-space industry. We are working together to achieve our big vision, which is to realize the Industrialization of Space.”

“Finally, we have a strategic partnership with NanoRacks and ISISpace. By utilizing the strengths of each country and company in the spirit of international cooperation, it enables us to contribute to the space development for humankind more rapidly. we have strengthened our engineering expertise through unique strategic partnerships and by boosting our internal engineering team. This ensures we provide high-quality engineering support to our customers, primarily in our smallsat deployment and in-orbit demonstration services.”

the J-SSOD system
Smallsat deployment using J-SSOD system (copyright JAXA).

The future for Space BD

With such a strong track record of working effectively with JAXA, and growing expertise in both the engineering and commercial aspects of the modern space market, Space BD is in a very interesting position today, with a number of avenues for growth open to it.

We asked Ryuichi for more information on what the company’s vision and plans are moving forwards:

“We are cultivating several opportunities within the space supply chain, and our aim is to become a global top-tier company in satellite launch business in a few years.”

“We want to lower the barriers of space industrialization with our commercial approach and reduce the burden of technical development for companies. To achieve this, we will become a platform to provide one-stop solutions to tackle various challenges for the industrialization of space.”

“We hope to help accelerate the commercialization of space by removing the obstacles hindering technology development for space start-ups, SMEs and universities.”

“The space industry has traditionally been dominated by large companies and government contracts and, just like satsearch, we hope to encourage more players to enter and create new businesses.”

“One of the major issues for new start-ups is obtaining affordable and flexible access to space and gaining in-flight heritage to mature their product or service. Therefore, we have structured our services to be a one-stop shop for everything relating to space development projects.”

Today, Space BD is growing in a number of areas as they work to fulfil this vision. At the 2019 Small Satellite Conference in Utah they announced a new Collaborative Service Agreement with ISISpace for example.

This partnership will facilitate Space BD in providing small satellite deployment service in European region. Find out more about the agreement here.

We are very grateful for Ryuichi’s input and delighted to be working with Space BD to bring their expertise to the global market.

In the coming weeks and months we’ll be taking a closer look at Space BD’s commercial offering, as well as sharing more information about other news at the business. In the meantime, for more details on the company please view Space BD’s page on the satsearch platform.

Finally, if you would like to find out more about the Satsearch Membership Program, and discover how your business can benefit from the support we are offering to companies like Space BD, please click on this link.

member spotlight
supply chain

related articles

Blog home

Microsatellite and CubeSat platforms on the global market

CubeSat thrusters and small satellite propulsion systems

Ground station service providers: an overview of telemetry and telecommand communication services and networks for small satellites