SPACE WALKER is the first private-sector rocket company to receive an investment from JAXA. Funds will be applied to accelerate development of suborbital spaceplanes for manned spaceflight.

April 20th, 2023, Tokyo―SPACE WALKER (Head office: Minato-ku, Tokyo; Co-Founder CEO: Akihide Manabe; hereafter ‘SPACE WALKER’) became the first private-sector rocket company in Japan to receive funding from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; President: Hiroshi Yamakawa; hereafter ‘JAXA’). The company will use the funds to promote the development of suborbital spaceplanes for manned spaceflight.

In the lead up to this investment, SPACE WALKER had applied in response to JAXA’s call to submit an application for investment publicized in April 2022, as a “business operator using the results related to the research and development of JAXA (*1)”. SPACE WALKER was selected as a recipient of the investment opportunity, after a screening procedure of candidates.

[ From left, Koichi Yonemoto, Co-Founder CTO of SPACE WALKER, Akihide Manabe, Co-Founder CEO of SPACE WALKER, Yasuo Ishii, Vice President of JAXA, and Kyoko Dateki, Director of the Business Development and Industrial Relations Department in JAXA (Photo taken on 19/04/2023)]

SPACE WALKER is an aerospace startup affiliated with the Tokyo University of Science. A wide range of research is conducted to develop winged reusable launch vehicles (“suborbital spaceplanes”) with a vision of sustainable space transportation for all. SPACE WALKER envisions a future where everyone can travel freely between Earth and Space, similar to air travel today.

Since before its establishment, the company has been carrying out research and development of suborbital spaceplanes together with private companies, universities, and other research institutes including JAXA, in an Open Innovation System between industry, government and academia. The next-generation composite tank (*2) is a critical component of the research and development, and the company is working to further reduce weight and extend the service-life of the tank, by utilizing the results of JAXA’s research and development, among other developments. SPACE WALKER will use this funding to accelerate commercialization in both space and on earth, and to contribute to the realization of a carbon-neutral society, aligning with the concept of ECO ROCKET Project (*3).

Comment from Yasuo Ishii, Vice President on the Board of Directors, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Enabling low-cost commercial space transportation services is essential for expanding the use of space and the space industry. JAXA has been working with SPACE WALKER through J-SPARC and other co-creation activities, and has now decided to invest in SPACE WALKER, as the company is utilizing results of JAXA’s research and development to further develop composite tanks with reduced weight and extended service life, as part of its spaceplane project.
JAXA hopes that SPACE WALKER will socially implement the research and development results both in space and on earth, and contribute to the realization of a carbon-neutral society, as part of its ECO ROCKET project aiming to enable sustainable space development.

Comment from Akihide Manabe, Co-Founder CEO of SPACE WALKER
We are pleased and honored to be the very first private-sector recipient of investment from JAXA, as a company aspiring to realize space transportation services. Our relationship with JAXA began prior to our establishment as a university-affiliated startup, as we had formerly been conducting research and development as a university project in an open innovation system, including JAXA. We had also been involved in business co-creation activities, selected as the maiden project of JAXA’s co-creation program “J-SPARC” since 2018. With this investment from JAXA, we expect to become a next-generation industry leader with a stronger team structure that connects the public and private sectors, building upon Japan’s world-class manufacturing technology cultivated in the past four decades.

Comment from Koichi Yonemoto, Co-Founder CTO of SPACE WALKER
SPACE WALKER’s suborbital spaceplane has its origins in the Highly Maneuverable Experimental Space Vehicle (HIMES), a winged flying vehicle that the late Dr. Nobuto Nagatomo of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Ministry of Education, who was sent as a researcher from a private company, aimed at realizing. I was also personally involved in the HOPE/HOPE-X (H-II Orbiting Plane) project of the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan and the National Space Development Agency of Japan for nearly a decade. To realize this dream, we are promoting research and development through an industry-government-academia structure aiming to commercialize by the end of the 2020s. With encouragement from this investment, we intend to realize a reusable space transportation system that will be on par with the technologies of Europe, the USA and other neighboring countries.

Company name: SPACE WALKER, Inc.
Location: 3F, 3-16-12 Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0004, Japan
Representative: Akihide Manabe, CEO
Business: Design and development of winged reusable rockets (spaceplanes).
Design, manufacturing and sales of related components and peripheral parts.
Planning and proposal of space related events and other related businesses.


Supplemental information
1: Business operator that uses the results related to the research and development of JAXA

(1) JAXA investments promote the use and commercialization of JAXA R&D achievements by private-sector companies and contribute to the realization of the maximization and social implementation of these R&D achievements.
(2) JAXA investments also promote open innovations to build a space industry ecosystem and rally with companies in other industries, and to contribute to maintaining and strengthening of industrial competitiveness in Japan and of an industry, science and technology infrastructure.

In both cases, companies in the seed/early stage are eligible.

2: Next-Generation Composite Vessels

SPACE WALKER is also involved in the development of composite vessels, a key component in rocket development.
SPACE WALKER develops lightweight composite tanks for ultra-high-pressure gasses of nearly 1,000 bars and for liquid propellants at cryogenic temperatures of -200 °C.
The composite tanks are critical to weight reduction in space development, and are also expected to enable a hydrogen society on earth, where demand is expected to increase in recent years. SPACE WALKER aims for commercialization both in space and on earth.
<For more information, see:>

3: ECO ROCKET Project
On 5th June 2021 (World Environment Day), SPACE WALKER announced the concept ECO ROCKET project and registered ECO ROCKET® as a trademark for reusable, clean-fueled rockets.
Based on this concept, ECO ROCKET project began activities in 2022, aiming to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly space development.

<World Environment Day: Announcing ECO ROCKET® – SPACE WALKER (>

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