UK Shortlist Astroscale along with Clear Space for multi-debris removal mission


By Aahil

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) announced on September 26 that it has selected teams led by startup companies Astroscale as well as Clearspace for a mission that will eliminate two spacecrafts from the low Earth orbit by 2026.

The UK divisions of Japanese-based Astroscale as well as Switzerland's Clearspace have been awarded PS4 Million ($4.28 millions) in follow-on contracts for joint operations after receiving funding in October to investigate the feasibility of the mission.

A group that is led by British small satellite maker SSTL also took part in the previous calendar year's PS1 million Phase 0-A of active debris disposal research, however, it was not included in the announcement.

Phase B will run until the end of October 2023. The phase will end with a preliminary design review.

This could include information on the spacecraft they plan to take down, which could have been launched into orbit under the terms of a UK license.

COSMIC Partners comprise MDA UK, Thales Alenia Space UK, Namco, GMV-NSL, NORSS, Goonhilly, Satellite Applications Catapult and Willis Towers Watson.

The ELSA-m satellite was designed to detach from orbit multiple satellites in one mission.

The mechanism for capturing is based on magnetic docking plates, similar to those used by the OneWeb satellites, but COSMIC will require robotic technology developed by its MDA partner MDA to manage the spacecraft.

The plan aims to offer the equivalent of PS 15 million to help support the development and research of new technologies in the country that includes world-class servicing and manufacturing.

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