Mitsui & Co., Japan’s second-biggest trading house, participated in a funding round for microsatellite maker Axelspace Corp. that raised about 2 billion yen ($17 million), people with knowledge of the matter said.

Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain is also among at least seven investors that joined Tokyo-based Axelspace’s series A funding round, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Axelspace, which now operates two satellites orbiting the Earth, plans to use the proceeds to manufacture and launch three more satellites in 2017, the people said. The company makes small satellites weighing less than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) whose imagery can be used for agriculture, forestry and disaster monitoring, according to its website.

The first satellite launched by Axelspace, the 10-kilogram WNISAT-1, is equipped with cameras that monitor spectral bands of blue, green and red to help ships detect icebergs. Spokesmen for Axelspace, Global Brain and Mitsui declined to comment.

Yuya Nakamura, 35, founded Axelspace in 2008 after finishing doctoral research in space engineering at the University of Tokyo.

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