- Press Release
- Sep 26, 2023
LeoLabs Wins Contract Award to Support Japan Air Self Defense Force with Commercial Space Domain Awareness
LeoLabs, Inc., the world’s leading commercial provider of low Earth orbit (LEO) mapping and Space Situational Awareness (SSA) services, today announced a multimillion-dollar award to provide data and services for the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF). The agreement offers Japan access to the largest set of actionable insights in existence for tracking satellites and orbital debris in low Earth orbit (LEO), all generated from LeoLabs’ global network of phased array radars. LeoLabs will deliver its LEO data and services platform and a full set of training to empower JASDF operators to utilize a range of data and tools, including tracking and monitoring, collision avoidance, and other services.
“We are deeply honored to have this opportunity to work with the Japan Ministry of Defense,” said Dan Ceperley, CEO and LeoLabs Co-Founder. “Within the commercial SSA world for low Earth orbit (LEO), LeoLabs is the sole end-to-end supplier of radar infrastructure and scalable services that address the changing threat landscape and challenges to sustainability. Our radar network already generates the most LEO observations in the world and, in fact, produces more than any of the government SSA networks. As our sensor network continues to proliferate around the world, we are rapidly investing in analytics and tools that will scale to deliver timely updates on critical events in LEO. These events include collisions, breakups, maneuvers, new launches, and re-entries. We will bring all these capabilities to JASDF.”
The contract award defines a specific set of state-of-the-art tools and data from LeoLabs that will serve JASDF operational requirements in LEO and will be delivered as a subscription service. Examples of the scope of the services include:
LeoLabs Tracking and Monitoring service
LeoLabs Collision Avoidance service
LeoLabs will provide access to these services and associated training to immediately augment the space domain awareness (SDA) capabilities at the Japan Ministry of Defense.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense has awarded LeoLabs this contract through ITOCHU Aviation Co., Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation – LeoLabs’ established trading partner. LeoLabs and ITOCHU are mutually committed to growing their partnership in the future and ensuring the success of the JASDF.
Background on LeoLabs Industry-Leading Commercial SSA Platform: Solving the “Data Deficit” for Japan and the World
Low Earth Orbit is emerging as the commercial and national security focus in space. Rapid deployment of new satellite constellations, the demand for innovative services from imaging to broadband to IoT (internet of things), and the billions of dollars of new investment in space-based infrastructure are redefining a domain shared by governments, space agencies, regulators, commercial operators, and space insurance.
Against this backdrop of unprecedented opportunity are two challenges critical to investment and the long-term viability of LEO. The first is the need to develop LEO sustainably by addressing the threat posed by space debris. Approximately 250,000 dangerous pieces of orbital debris have gone untracked by government legacy systems that can no longer keep pace with increasing risks to satellite constellations. Sustainability is not just an arena for operators to address, but also for defense and regulators to establish international best practices, set standards, and define rules of behavior.
A second challenge critical to the long-term viability of LEO is keeping it open and secure. As the number of private space enterprises and space-faring nations continue to grow, so does the need to track and make transparent the full range of events that threaten an open space environment.
“The single greatest challenge to addressing both the sustainability and security threats in LEO is solving the “data deficit”, said Dan Ceperley, LeoLabs CEO. “This is true for Japan, and for all space-faring nations. The number of assets in LEO doubled last year, will double again this year, and is expected to grow 25x in the next five years. LeoLabs is already the largest provider of data for LEO today, and we’re uniquely positioned to expand this lead as we execute on our constellation of radars. Our current network includes six radars located at sites in Alaska, Texas, New Zealand and Costa Rica. By the end of this year, we will add four more radars at additional sites in Australia and the Azores in the Atlantic. Our network will grow from there.”
Ceperley continued, “The legacy, government-built SSA infrastructures and sensors of the past simply cannot scale to track the new levels of LEO activity, and they have no path to get there, economically or in a timely manner. Single radars cannot keep pace with the requirements for fast revisit times, or highly accurate tracking. The only way to provide adequate coverage and responsive defense is with a large, distributed network of radar sensors that provide an “always-on” stream of data. Our LeoLabs commercially driven infrastructure is the only viable and scalable way to address this “data deficit”, and that’s what the JASDF will be able to leverage under our new contract.”
About LeoLabs (www.leolabs.space)
Founded in 2016 as a venture-funded spinout of Silicon Valley research pioneer, SRI International, LeoLabs provides access to critical mapping and SSA data for low Earth orbit. LeoLabs’ services include collision prevention, risk assessment, constellation monitoring, and commercial SSA. LeoLabs today serves regulatory and space agencies, commercial satellite operators, defense, and scientific/academic organizations that are driving generational change in LEO. LeoLabs’ core technology includes a patent- pending global phased-array radar network which tracks debris and satellites in LEO. Observations generated from this network are the foundation of the LeoLabs mapping and SSA software platform, providing timely and accurate orbital and situational data.
About Itochu Corporation
The history of ITOCHU Corporation dates to 1858 when the Company’s founder Chubei Itoh commenced linen trading operations. Since then, ITOCHU has evolved and grown over 160 years. With approximately 100 bases in 62 countries, ITOCHU, one of the leading “sogo shosha”, is engaging in domestic trading, import/export, and overseas trading of various products such as textile, machinery, metals, energy, chemicals, food, general products, realty, information and communications technology, and finance, as well as business investment in Japan and overseas. ITOCHU has established that the contribution to SDGs and reinforcement of measures is a basic policy in its medium-term management plan “Brand New Deal 2023”. Through the partnership with the industry leading SSA solution provider, ITOCHU will contribute to the space sustainability.