Keeping space clean and safe is a subject that everyone appreciates the seriousness of, but only a few companies are capable of actually doing anything about. That's where Astroscale Ltd. (“Astroscale”), a developer of space debris removal service to secure long-term orbital sustainability, comes into play.
The company has been awarded a contract under the Sunrise Project, a Public-Private Partnership led by the European Space Agency (ESA) and OneWeb, a global communications company on a mission to connect the unconnected through a global satellite constellation. As the first commercial organization to invest in space debris removal, Astroscale is well placed to be working with OneWeb, a pioneering company that is at the forefront of the emerging space ecosystem.
The Sunrise Project, which is a part of the ESA ARTES program, was created to develop technologies for future generation telecommunication satellite missions, and to advance Active Debris Removal (ADR) capabilities in low Earth orbit.
Under the contract, Astroscale, which was selected for the program as well as other industry partners, will improve upon the heritage capabilities currently being developed for its End-of Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission. This mission is a privately funded demonstration of technologies necessary for orbital debris removal. Astroscale’s Sunrise Project solution will mature the technology required in support of commercial ADR services and help lay the groundwork toward the ultimate goal of a sustainable orbital environment.
John Auburn, Astroscale UK Director and Group Chief Commercial Officer stated that Astroscale is very excited to be partnering with ESA and OneWeb on this project and to be present at the beginning of this new stage of space development. As the first commercial organization to invest in space debris removal, Astroscale is well placed to be working with OneWeb, a pioneering company that is at the forefront of the emerging space ecosystem. This collaboration demonstrates the commitment of ESA, OneWeb and Astroscale to actively manage in-orbit debris and they hope that the technologies developed will help keep space sustainable for future generations.
Tim Maclay, OneWeb’s Director of Mission Systems Engineering, said that OneWeb believes that space is a global, shared natural resource, and it is up to everyone to protect the environment in which they operate. At OneWeb, they are committed to the employment of responsible satellite design and operational practices and to the development of new technologies that promote space environmental stewardship. They are proud to be partnering with ESA and Astroscale to advance ADR concepts, technologies, and business strategies for the future of all space users.
Wael El-Dali, Project Manager at ESA, added that meeting the challenges of new satellite constellations requires a high level of innovation in diverse fields. They are delighted that new space companies like Astroscale and OneWeb can use the versatility of their ARTES program to help them deliver world-leading innovation in a fast moving and highly competitive market.
The Astroscale contract is for a period of 12 months and is expected to be completed by April 2020.