Letara Ltd. (Sapporo, Japan), a start-up developing novel satellite propulsion systems using plastic fuel, has signed a contract with Takikawa City, Hokkaido, on December 1st, 2023.
The agreement has been reached to utilize the former Ebeotsu Junior High School in Takikawa City (1-1118-1 Ebeotsu-cho, Takikawa City), as Letara's new R&D base.
【Establishment of Development Base and Why Utilize a Closed School】
Letara Ltd. was in search of a location to serve as a development base for upcoming product development for the combustion testing ground and prototype development of propulsion systems (engines). On the other hand, Takikawa City had been soliciting proposals from businesses that could make use of the facilities and land of the former Ebeotsu Junior High School, which had closed in March 2022. Upon learning about this, Letara Ltd. subsequently conducted on-site inspections in Takikawa City, proposed ways to utilize the facilities, and ultimately entered into a contract.
This background is related to a nationwide issue of increasing closed schools in Japan. The closure of schools is on the rise in correlation with the decreasing population of children is inversely proportional to the increasing number of closed schools nationwide in Japan. Approximately 450 schools close down each year, making it a societal issue significant enough for the MEXT to launch a project "Minna no Haiko Project". Hokkaido, of course, is no exception, with many closed schools not being utilized.
Letara Ltd. with one of the company's philosophies “To Space with Hokkaido" is committed to contributing to the resolution of issues facing Hokkaido and aims to support Hokkaido through the effective use of closed schools. A low-cost and environmentally conscious way with reuse existing strong buildings to develop the company is precisely what is sought after for the future of businesses. Letara Ltd. plans to rent the property free of charge for the next year for environmental improvements, after which will purchase the land and building.
Takikawa City is located approximately 2 hours by car from Sapporo, and it is nature-rich town with a population of 37,511 (as of the end of September 2023).There are large areas of land in Hokkaido that could be used to build a plant and as a combustion test site.
Using safe fuel with low risk of explosion. However, just because it is wide and less hazardous does not mean that accidents will not occur. Letara Ltd. prioritize the safety of residents, the environment, and employees, and proceed with various plans accordingly.
【Contribution to the community and the cultivation of future space leaders.】
What Letara Ltd. envisions in utilizing the former Ebeotsu Junior High School goes beyond the establishment of R&D base. As Takikawa city has expressed its hope that will be linked to local employment, Letara Ltd. aims to be a company that can support Hokkaido beyond the company. Leveraging the characteristics of the school building which are familiar to many people. And also, to hold public lectures on educational rockets and combustion experiments for local residents. The space business in Japan is expected to develop further in Hokkaido in the future and it is also an important role to nurture the leaders of the space business.
On November 21st, a community briefing session targeting local residents was conducted, where Co-CEO Shota Hirai explained the business details, the potential of the space industry, and the future vision in collaboration with Takikawa City. Many visitors attended to see the products under development and experience their safety firsthand. There were also many Q＆A about job creation and other topics, and they were eagerly awaiting the completion of R＆D base.
Letara Ltd. continues its grounded activities in Hokkaido while gazing at the distant space.