Spotlight: Custom-made space solutions to reach space – with Space BD


This article provides insights into how custom-made space solutions are benefiting and increasing the overall productivity of space businesses.

It features Space BD‘s custom-made space solutions and their footprint in the space industry. Furthermore, the article also covers an extended outlook on how these solutions can benefit the NewSpace market.

The article also highlights the following key achievements of Space BD:

  • The company’s vast footprint in Japan and its growing presence in the international market
  • The successfully demonstrated wireless communication signal reception in space, which was part of its ISS Kibo external platform utilization service to Sony Group Corporation (Sony).
  • It’s delivery of satellites to space during SpaceX’s Rideshare mission
  • Collaboration with world-renown artist Masa Hayami to launch her artwork into space and preserve it as a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) after its return to Earth

The article was developed in collaboration with Space BD, a paying participant in the satsearch membership program.


The commercial explosion in the space industry has successfully created a wave of innovation in the upstream market. Looking at the past decade, where countries like Australia, China, India, and Japan have recorded a rise in the number space companies, it is fair to say that the industry will continue to experience commercial growth in the coming years.

These new opportunities, branching through this commercial pathway, are leading to more competition while also paving way for global collaborations and partnerships. Currently, there are multiple ways in which a company can now reach space. However, looking into the complex layers of space business and taking care of each business aspect can prove to be a handful in the space industry. In that line, having custom-made solutions that cater to the specific requirements of the company as well as aid in providing end-to-end solutions around each of the aspects can propel and help streamline businesses in a sustainable manner. This in turn will help in reducing or eliminating errors in the overall management process and further accelerate the commercialization of the space industry.

To receive more insights on how custom-made space solutions will change the landscape of NewSpace businesses as well as how it will help streamline the businesses, we will take a deeper look at each of the aspects in the next sections of the article.

Optimizing the engineering and business support for space industry

Considering the NewSpace sector, the upstream space supply chain needs to become more agile and resilient to help customers meet their demands. While the giant and established players can easily respond as well as scale their capabilities quickly to market demands, the small and medium-sized businesses require an appropriate support to be able to achieve such high market demands.

For any technology business to be successful, both its technical and business pillars need to be strong enough to grab mammoth-sized opportunities as well as tackle critical challenges, whenever necessary. In the space sector, the engineering aspects remain the core fuel for the success of the business, though space technology has become accessible to common citizens, it’s development and functioning remains complex. For example, a minor error in space product or service lifecycle management can possibly lead to a complete failure of the mission. Similarly, the business sphere is wide and open, but find the right partners and collaborators is the key for long-term success in business; especially if the company is aiming to scale.

In this segment, Space BD’s core services offer one-stop support for all similar demands right from technical coordination to launch execution and operations support. Considering the vast footprint of Space BD in Japan, the company’s solutions are competitive to help the other global space companies.

Most of the space companies based out of Japan can also utilize these solutions to strengthen their technical and business process. For example, the classic case of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) can be considered as an answer as to why there is a strong need for a one-stop solution for both engineering and business. The JWST was delayed for more than a decade, which eventually led to the piling up more additional costs for the mission. In such cases, streamlining both engineering and business (from a procurement perspective) teams is important to avoid such massive budget spending and delays in space projects.

Decoding commercial opportunities in undefined verticals

Since the inception of NewSpace, tapping unexplored markets for commercial opportunities has become an essential part of modern space businesses. Space BD‘s current business engagement extensively covers the solutions and services for both the traditional space as well as NewSpace market. Its unique service offering as well as the company’s urge to provide access to Japanese technology to the world, has positioned it as one of the most competitive players in the region. Following are some of the key services offered by Space BD:

Space BD’s In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) service on the International Space Station (ISS) “Kibo” module enables companies to test new technologies. The service utilizes the ISS Kibo’s IVA-replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP) - often described as the easiest way to utilize the space environment for a wide variety of projects.

Space BD’s Life Sciences Research services on the ISS “Kibo” module enable organic structural and crystallization analysis in space. This ISS facility utilization service enables public and private teams the ability to perform protein crystallization and drug discovery experiments in space.

Space BD's Satellite Launch Services include advice on technical restrictions, price, orbit, and desired launch timing. The company provides comprehensive support for the technical coordination of a wide range of launches, from the selection of the launch vehicle to the operation of the satellite, depending on each customers’ required support level.

Apart from launch and procurement support, Space BD’s International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experimental Module (Kibo) external platform utilization service remains unique; as it also generates commercial opportunities in the space industry from the non-space players. Under this service, Space BD provides opportunities to perform experiments on the ISS using various facilities in- and outside the ISS, and support the planning and management of the whole launch campaign of the test object. To receive more insights, let’s take a look at the company’s recent mission to ISS:

In November 2022, Space BD successfully demonstrated wireless communication signal reception in space, which was part of its ISS Kibo external platform utilization service to Sony Group Corporation (Sony). The mission was designed to demonstrate the compatibility of the wireless communication equipment for ELTRES™, a low-power wide-area (LPWA) communication standard developed by Sony. In this mission, Space BD utilized its external platform utilization service called, IVA-replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP).

(Image credits: Space BD) Selection of payload items: (Left) Prior to launch (Right) After exposure to space and return to Earth. This project made use of the small simple exposure experiment device (ExBAS/developed jointly with JAXA) installed in the medium exposure experiment adapter (i-SEEP) of the ISS Kibo.
(Image credits: Space BD) Selection of payload items: (Left) Prior to launch (Right) After exposure to space and return to Earth. This project made use of the small simple exposure experiment device (ExBAS/developed jointly with JAXA) installed in the medium exposure experiment adapter (i-SEEP) of the ISS Kibo.

For Sony’s wireless communication demonstration with i-SEEP, Space BD together with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) organized the optimal demonstration environment that reduced the risk of power supply/communication problems in space. This allowed the developer to focus on manufacturing the experiment equipment.

(Image credits: Space BD) Demonstration of wireless experiment equipment compatible with ELTRES™
(Image credits: Space BD) Demonstration of wireless experiment equipment compatible with ELTRES™

Prior to this mission, communications to the i-SEEP were strictly limited, and only JAXA Flight Control Team at Tsukuba Space Center could reach the payload to get the data. JAXA maintained the new external operation systems in April 2022, and Sony connected to the ISS from the permitted location with Space BD as the point of contact.

Space BD’s mission has successfully reduced communication hurdles for ISS, and this will ultimately also benefit several companies aiming to receive more access to ISS services.

How commercial space companies can successfully propel their businesses using custom-made space solutions

The privatization wave in the space industry has encouraged several companies to look towards space as a commercial hotspot of opportunities for both innovation and business. While dealing with such a complex technology will invite challenges, it might also lead to an absolute failure of the businesses. To take a broad perspective, several NewSpace companies are running on either government or private funding sources. In this scenario, factors such as mission failure in orbit, over-budget procurements, delay in the project timeline, etc. can potentially bankrupt even the most ambitious companies.

To ensure that the space mission is successful both in terms of project management and in orbit, the companies need to keep a strong focus on their end-to-end procurement to launch service as well as streamlining the project management process. In order to fill such a wide productivity gap in this segment, Space BD provides an integrated procurement and sales service ranging from the identification of suitable components and parts, and purchase negotiation, to logistics and delivery to support with customer’s development and manufacturing of space-related equipment. The company also supports a wide range of procurement, from single satellite parts to the installation of large-scale facilities such as environmental testing facilities.

Space BD has a proven experience of working in the international markets. In November 2021, Space BD purchased the satellite rideshare slot on the mission. Through sales activities and technical support, Space BD gathered satellites from 6 organizations in total, including a company the UK and a total of missions from six different countries. To date Space BD has provided satellite developers with launch method proposals and technical support as well as support for various screenings required prior to launch. To respond to the growing and diverse demand for the use of space, in 2021 Space BD began adding global launch methods to the existing Japanese launch methods. This enabled Space BD to provide more flexible launch timeframes, accommodate a wider variety of satellite sizes, and made it possible to achieve launch to desired orbits. This rideshare mission was successfully launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle during the Transporter-6 mission launch and it was also the first satellite launch using an overseas rocket.

Utilizing these services will not only ensure the success of the space missions but will also help NewSpace companies build a strong long-term business foundation. This also further increases productivity in financial management; especially when it comes to the procurement of space components. Without proper knowledge of economic dimensions, a company might end up spending more budgets for the components, which could have been procured at half the prices. For example, the manufacturing costs vary in Asia and Europe. And though the costs in Europe are higher as compared to Asia, there remains a possibility that collaboration or further market navigation with the help of companies like Space BD can generate more opportunities to procure components at an affordable price from a variety of suppliers.

Driving the future of commercial space through integrated custom solutions

From launching satellites and performing experiments in space to transporting things to space, there are many ways now to do business in the space industry. Each requires conceptualisation, technical coordination, launch execution and operations support. The companies need to look for collaboration opportunities like ride-sharing or performing experiments on the ISS, identifying suitable components, carrying negotiations, and so on. Simultaneously, from logistics to delivery, the planning and management of the whole launch campaign require a resilient management process to eliminate errors and ensure the full success of the space missions. And as the quantity and range of worldwide launch alternatives available continue to grow and more and more companies become a part of the industry, an enterprise providing an end-to-end business and technical support will be essential for the industry.

Space BD’s footprint goes beyond commercial businesses and the company aims to educate the industry about these gaps and help them bring more efficiency to their operations. In January 2023, Space BD collaborated with world-renowned artist Masa Hayami to launch her artwork into space and preserve it as a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) after its return to Earth. The artwork will be launched into space by the end of FY2023, exposed to the outer space environment for approximately six months, and returned to Earth, where it will be given proof of its space journey and preserved as an NFT.

Encouraging and educating the world about the space through latest technologies is also one of the prime goals of Space BD. And its recent venturing into space art segment will further help create future leadership for the space industry.

To find out more about Space BD, please view their supplier hub here on satsearch.

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