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ClearSpace secures another UK contract

Posted on 17 Mar 2024 and read 744 times
ClearSpace secures another UK contract ClearSpace, an in-orbit servicing (IOS) company created in 2018, has secured a contract with the UK Space Agency to investigate ‘the feasibility of an in-orbit satellite refuelling mission’. The Refuel.ME study, which will run until September 2024, will involve establishing ‘the key mission requirements and the definition of the mission concept of operations’, leading to an initial design of the servicer satellite and ‘a review of the sizeable market potential’.

Ultimately, the selected servicer will first refuel the UK National Debris Removal Mission, for which ClearSpace is also developing a concept, before continuing to refuel other commercial satellites. The UK Space Agency says enabling satellite lifetimes to be extended in this manner, ensures such valuable assets can be retained for longer, reducing the frequency of replacement, and aiding the reduction of further space debris generated by defunct satellites.

ClearSpace’s rapidly growing UK subsidiary is currently fully engaged in developing the Clear Spacecraft for the UK National Debris Removal mission. With a goal to deliver future commercial refuelling services, ClearSpace is teaming up with key industry partners to form a UK-based consortium with specialised capabilities. OrbitFab brings expertise in refuelling systems, Satellite Applications Catapult has extensive experience in validating complex Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO), and Know.space is an industry leader in commercial and economic analysis.

Rory Holmes, ClearSpace UK’s managing director said: “The funding received from the UK Space Agency to establish our national refuelling capabilities to extend the lives of satellites in-orbit, represents a joint ambition for the UK to be at the forefront of the emerging in-orbit servicing market.

“We are honoured to continue working closely with the UK Space Agency and our industrial partners, to use the wealth of knowledge and expertise available in the UK to develop our concept for a mission that will not only become an indispensable service in the future but also help to mitigate the growing issue of space debris.”

Ray Fielding, the UK Space Agency’s head of space sustainability, added: “Until recently, satellites had been designed as one-shot items; non-refuellable with mission lifespans coming to an end when the satellite could no longer manoeuvre effectively. This funding shows the UK Space Agency is leading work to develop UK capabilities in performing in-orbit tasks, such as refuelling, and demonstrating leadership in more sustainable space operations.”