SPACE WALKER, Inc. (Head Office: Minato-ku, Tokyo; CEO: Akihide Manabe), aiming to achieve Japan’s first manned space flight, has been awarded a government grant within the space section (specifically for the development and demonstration of private rockets) in the “Small Business Innovation Research Program―Phase 3 (SBIR Phase 3)” funded by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), with a potential upwards of 14 billion yen.

The “ECO ROCKET®”, as defined by SPACE WALKER, combines reusable rocket technology with carbon-neutral liquefied biomethane fuel to achieve reduced environmental impact. SPACE WALKER aims to revolutionize the rocket industry with this technology, which currently predominantly relies on conventional disposable rockets.

SPACE WALKER is also successfully advancing the development of the world’s first ultra-low-temperature liquid propellant composite material tank, which achieves extreme weight reduction, as well as further developing a fully autonomous navigation and control system for round-trip space transportation.

The business model of reusable rockets differs from conventional disposable rocket business models. It includes spacecraft sales, maintenance, transportation services by operating companies, and diverse applications such as leasing, rental, and insurance sales, resembling the aviation industry of today. The ultimate goal of this project is not only the development of winged reusable rockets but also the establishment of a new business model in the space transportation industry.

Messagefrom Akihide Manabe, Co-Founder CEO:

We are deeply honored to be selected for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, a grant funded by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Our team works hard every day towards the development of Japan’s space industry, and this recognition will further accelerate our efforts. It is undeniable that the space transportation industry holds the key to Japan’s future. Standing at such a significant turning point in history, I feel the weight of responsibility of being a competitive player at this moment, in this environment. The grant we receive is funded by the taxes of the Japanese people, and we understand its fundamental significance. We promise to make the utmost effort to achieve the best results. Lastly, we express our sincere gratitude to our many predecessors who have connected us to this point, our dedicated employees (current and former), and our investors who provide unwavering support. We are committed to giving our all until our mission is accomplished.

Message from Koichi Yonemoto, Co-Founder CTO:

SPACE WALKER’s suborbital spaceplane development has its roots in the highly Maneuverable Experimental Sounding rocket (HIMES) proposed by the late Dr. Nagatomo, a researcher seconded from a private company to the Institute of Space Astronautical Science (ISAS) at the Japan Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture in the 1980s. Subsequently, I was involved in the re-entry vehicle project HOPE/HOPE-X (H-II Orbiting PlanE) led by the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) for almost a decade. However, due to consecutive failures of the H-II rocket, the project was put on hold. In order to realize that dream, SPACE WALKER has collaborated with universities, partner companies, and others to continue research and development toward the practical use of suborbital spaceplanes. I am delighted that our proposal has been awarded to conduct a suborbital spaceplane flight demonstration for small satellite launch services in the 2027 fiscal year. At a critical turning point for Japan’s space transportation industry, we will take this recognition as encouragement, and accelerate development efforts through unified efforts of industry, government, and academia.


[Additional Information: The Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) funds the “Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program”, among other ministries of the Japanese Government]

This program is under the umbrella of the Japanese Government Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. Specifically, MEXT funds an SBIR Program including a “Large-scale Technology Demonstration for Social Implementation (Phase 3)” in the space sector for the development and demonstration of private rockets.

With the expanding role of space systems in national security and the economy, Japan will require more than 100 satellite launches in the next decade. To meet this demand and maintain independent space access, the development and commercialization of private-sector space rockets are crucial. The grant is intended to provide reinforced backing for startup companies that are advancing the development and flight demonstration of internationally competitive space rockets.

The grant program is divided into three phases, with a potential total of up to 14 billion yen per project. Stage-gate reviews will be conducted to narrow down the project number proceeding to the next phase, and award amounts will be determined before the start of each phase:

Phase1 4 projects awarded, a maximum of 2 billion yen per project, 100% subsidy rate. 
Phase2 3 projects awarded, a maximum of 5 billion yen per project, 90% subsidy rate.
Phase3 2 projects awarded, a maximum of 8.5 billion yen per project, 75% subsidy rate.

For more details, please visit:
[Link to NTT Data Strategy News Release] (



Company name SPACE WALKER, Inc.
Location 3-16-12 Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 3rd Floor Daiichi Yokoyama Building
Representative CEO Akihide MANABE
Establishment December 2017
Business SPACE WALKER is a university startup conducting research and development of winged reusable suborbital and orbital spaceplanes. The company also develops key components and other related businesses; such as next-generation composite tanks―applying space technology to accelerate industry decarbonization on Earth.

SPACE WALKER envisions sustainable space transportation for all, as familiar as commercial air travel today.

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