Towards Mass Production and Mass Adoption
of Small Satellites: Canon Electronics' Challenge


Realizing a Dream
~ One-stop shop for space ~


The origin story

1999: Sakamaki is appointed President of CE with dreams of entering the space industry. From his experience participating in many new product launches as a member of Canon Inc.'s R&D division, he knew that CE possessed the technology and expertise in precision machines and optics to disrupt the satellite manufacturing market.

2002: Sakamaki is inspired by a conversation with a friend living abroad. An idea, that "the coming age will belong to those who tame near-Earth space," left a deep imprint and Sakamaki felt instinctively, "this is our chance!"

With a clear path to realizing his dream, Sakamaki implemented a series of bold reorganizations in management in order to build up the necessary funds and worked tirelessly to recruit talent and experience. In 2009, Sakamaki declared Canon Electronics' entry into the space industry and officially kicked off CE's challenge.


In-house development

Sakamaki's message of "becoming a global leader in the space industry and fueling the next generations' dreams" quickly spread, not just within the Canon group but around the world, attracting talented researchers and engineers to the team.

In 2012, Canon Electronics started development and manufacturing on an original micro satellite. At the time, satellite components were primarily sourced from abroad and cost steep prices; CE decided to make as many parts as possible in-house, gaining familiarity with the technology involved. Drawing from experience in mass-manufacturing precision electromechanical components, CE continues to find ways to reduce costs while maintaining the required performance, with the aim of making these components available to other satellite manufacturers.

One-stop shop

From manufacture to launch: a one-stop shop

Canon Electronics' goal is to become a global leader in the space industry.

The first step is to begin mass production of micro satellites for sale to various customers. At the same time, internally developed components and photo/video data gathered by CE's satellites will create additional business opportunities.

In the future, the CE group aims to also produce launch vehicles and dedicated launch sites. Customers will be able to come to Canon Electronics as a complete space-business solution, from satellite manufacture to launch, freeing them to focus on their unique innovations and solutions.


Major milestones in CE Space

Launch of the prototype micro satellite CE-SAT-I from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India onboard PSLV-C38. The satellite entered a 500km sun-synchronous orbit. This marks the first successful launch of a self-funded satellite by a private company in Japan's history.
Canon Electronics, in partnership with IHI Aerospace, Shimizu corporation, and Development Bank of Japan, establishes the "New Generation Small Rocket Development Planning Co. Ltd."
Successful launch of the 10 m JAXA sounding rocket SS-520-5. Canon Electronics provided several components including avionics.
Canon Electronics, in partnership with IHI Aerospace, Shimizu Corporation, and Development Bank of Japan, establishes Space One Co., Ltd. to operate as a commercial space transport service business for small satellites.


Three Pillars of Business
~ Revenue target: ¥100 Billion by 2030 ~


Ready-made and Semi-custom Satellites

Canon Electronics can meet users' various needs with its micro satellite platform. Leveraging the Canon group's expertise in optics, the optical payloads are capable of world-class resolution imagery and video. A range of satellites with differing diameter optics are currently under development, further enhancing CE's ability to tailor the satellite to customer needs at low cost and fast lead times. CE looks forward to providing industry, academic institutions, startups, and other interested parties with reliable and affordable space platforms to further human use of space and improve quality of life.

Prototype Micro Satellite CE-SAT-I

  • Prototype Earth-observation satellite targeting low cost, high performance, and fast lead time
  • Winner of 2017 Good Design Award
  • Equips a Canon digital SLR camera mated to a 400mm diameter Catadioptric Cassegrain telescope. This allows a 6km x 4km ground image with 0.9m resolution, good enough to count individual passenger cars.
  • With the secondary Canon compact digital camera, wide-angle shots of 2000km x 1000km are possible.
  • Once images are transmitted to ground stations, they can be analyzed for use in agriculture, natural disaster response, and more.
  • Color video and night-time photography possible.
  • Dimensions: 500 x 500 x 850mm; Mass: 65kg


② In-house Components

Canon Electronics has leveraged decades of experience in development and manufacturing of mechanical, electronic, magnetic, and precision parts to offer high quality, affordable spacecraft components. So far, CE has successfully developed in-house products including sun sensors, geomagnetic sensors, star trackers, and optical sensors; many of these components are planned for on-orbit testing in 2019. CE proudly offers not only complete satellites but also reliable and affordable components to support customers' independent satellites.

Optical payloads

Telescopes and cameras leveraging the full optical expertise of Canon

Cassegrain Reflector

Optical system for high-resolution Earth observation satellites


Satellite actuators based on CE experience with motors and magnetic components


Magnetic actuator for controlling spacecraft attitude via interactions with the Earth magnetic field

Reaction Wheel

Actuator for controlling spacecraft attitude via momentum transfer to a rotating wheel (mass)


Precise sensors for determining satellite attitude

Sun Sensor

Determines the body-frame direction of the sun by detecting sunlight

Tuned Rotor Gyroscope

Measures the rotation rate of the satellite via the gyroscopic effect of a rotating wheel

Star Tracker

Calculates the spacecraft attitude using positions of known celestial objects

Geomagnetic Sensor

Measures the geomagnetic field vector by detecting differences in the coil current

Inertial Reference Unit

Measures angle and angular rate; comprised of multiple gyroscopes


Satellite Imagery, Video, and Analytics

Canon Electronics' micro satellite leverages the Canon group's expertise in optics to allow high resolution photography and videography across the globe. High resolution images contain valuable data, with applications ranging from agriculture, geology, to market research. CE, in addition to providing detailed and often beautiful images, is also working to automate the extraction of valuable data. From event photos from 500km to scientific and business observations, CE is ready to support your satellite data needs.

Examples of Satellite Data Use

Monitoring parking lots

With photographs at regular intervals, the use rate of parking lots may be calculated. Tracking changes in use with seasons or time of day allows improvements in logistics and resource allocation.

Monitoring traffic conditions

By monitoring traffic density or lengths of traffic jams, it is possible to determine fastest routes in near real time. CE-SAT-I imagery allows distinction between semi-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles, which further aids in optimizing navigation routes.

Fishing industry

High resolution satellite imagery can gather data from remote locations, including over water. This allows monitoring of fish hatcheries or vessels moored off-shore.

Oil industry

External floating roof tanks are used around the world for storing petroleum products. With high-resolution satellite imagery, it is possible to measure the contents of the tanks, giving market analysts an edge.


Homegrown Technology
~ Mass Production Spacecraft and Components ~

The growing
small satellite market

The growing small satellite market

In Japan, only a few satellites are launched each year. However, across the globe hundreds of satellites are launched annually, with the commercial-sector space industry seeing particular growth. Small satellites below 100kg can be launched much more affordably, thus attracting a large portion of the commercial ventures. The small satellite market is expected to continue growing, and the new services will one day drastically improve quality of life for people all over the world.

by Canon Electronics

Satellite-making by Canon Electronics

Canon Electronics, although a newcomer to space, has long nurtured technology and experience in motors, wide and tele optics, miniaturization techniques, and other fields which are indispensable for satellite manufacturing. Furthermore, CE prides itself on its ability to mass produce high quality precision machinery at low cost and fast lead times.

In addition to these strengths, somewhat unique amongst the sea of startups in space, Canon Electronics also boasts direct collaboration with its parent company Canon Inc., a worldwide renowned leader in optics and imagers. Add in the experience and knowledge of the assembled team of industry members and leaders, and CE is ready to disrupt the spacecraft and component markets.

Mass production of satellites is still a new challenge across the industry. In contrast to the old model of spending 5-10 years producing large unique satellites at great cost, CE aims to produce high performance, affordable satellites in under 2 years. CE's goal is a world where satellites are nothing out of the ordinary, and anyone may benefit from them - and CE intends to lead the way.

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