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CLEAR Mission reaches key development milestone

Posted on 24 Apr 2024 and read 763 times
CLEAR Mission reaches key development milestoneClearSpace, a leading provider of innovative in-orbit services including debris removal, satellite servicing, and life extension, has announced that its CLEAR Mission – funded as part of the UK Space Agency’s national debris removal programme – has achieved Preliminary Design Review (PDR) maturity, marking a significant advancement in bringing a sustainable space ecosystem to life.

The CLEAR Mission will use ClearSpace’s novel robotic capture system to safely remove two dead, washing-machine-sized UK satellites from orbit, mitigating the risk that these pieces of space debris pose to other space operations. The successful completion of the PDR confirms that ClearSpace’s solution meets all of the mission requirements and is ready for the next stages of development.

One of the highlights of the current development phase is the creation of a robust breadboard of all core technologies, including a highly agile robotic arm that has been designed and refined in less than one year through multiple hardware iterations, and exemplifies ClearSpace’s commitment to rapid innovation and cutting-edge engineering.

Critical milestone

Rory Holmes, UK managing director at ClearSpace, said: “We are incredibly excited to have achieved this critical milestone, not only showing that these complex missions are feasible, but also validating our core technology developments. We are very grateful to the UK Space Agency for all its support. This collaboration has allowed us to move fast – really fast – in developing core technologies that can be used for a wide range of in-orbit services right here in the UK.”

Ray Fielding, the UK Space Agency’s head of sustainability and ADR (active debris removal), added “We are delighted that ClearSpace has successfully completed the PDR phase for CLEAR – this is a significant milestone in the UK Space Agency’s national ADR mission, which is designed to be refuellable and, therefore, fully sustainable. As such, ClearSpace’s complementary refuelling study – one of four we are investing in – is a vital activity to identify the most effective solution and market.”

The CLEAR mission is a critical response to the growing problem of space debris, which poses a significant risk to satellites and crewed space stations, and the future of space exploration. By leveraging advanced technologies, ClearSpace aims to ensure cleaner and safer orbits, enabling sustainable space operations for generations to come.