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Krannert Executive Forum - Nobu Okada

Nobu Okada

Nobu Okada

Founder & Chief Executive Officer
ASTROSCALE PTE. LTD.

At the age of 15, Nobu Okada flew from his native Japan to join the United States Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. There, he met Japan’s first astronaut, Mamoru Mori, who handed Okada a handwritten note with a simple message: “The challenge of space is waiting for you.” That ignited a lifelong passion for space that eventually brought Okada to Purdue University, the “Cradle of Astronauts” and alma mater of his boyhood hero, Neil Armstrong, where Okada earned an MBA in 2001 from the Krannert School.

There were several stops along the way, however, beginning at the University of Tokyo with undergraduate and graduate studies in genetics. He then leveraged his unique skillset and MBA into a finance career, rocketing to new levels with jobs at several leading consulting firms and financial services companies, including McKinsey & Co. and Bain Capital.

In 2009, Okada caught the entrepreneurial spirit and founded a software company in Singapore, but after several years found himself in a “mid-career” crisis. “The challenge of space was still waiting for me,” he says, “but it was not what I anticipated. Today, space is full of rocket bodies, old satellites and other fragments of debris that are flying around the Earth at eight kilometers per second – that’s almost 10 times faster than a bullet.” Merging his technical background and startup experience, Okada tackled the growing problem in 2013 by founding Astroscale. It’s a Singapore-based satellite services company on a mission to contribute to the sustainable use of the space environment by developing scalable and innovative on-orbit technologies that safely remove the most threatening debris in orbit.