OneWeb, Astroscale and the UK and European space agencies team up to launch the Space Junk Servicer ELSA-M with an investment of 14.8 million euros

The ELSA-M Fixer will launch towards the end of 2024. The partnership takes an important step towards creating a more sustainable space environment.

United Kingdom (Astroscale PR) – OneWeb and Astroscale Ltd.* will seek to protect the satellite economy with groundbreaking new spacecraft technology, in part with a new investment of €14.8 million. Astroscale’s ELSA-M Fixer Demonstration Mission will launch in late 2024, with ambitious plans to provide debris removal service to satellite operators thereafter.

The announcement builds on Sunrise, a partnership program launched in 2019 between the European Space Agency (ESA) and OneWeb to support the advancement of next-generation technologies ranging from artificial intelligence for piloting satellites to new payload and user terminal technology to support research into active debris removal. This latest funding agreement will support Astroscale Ltd. and its UK partners and will complete the design of the ELSA-M repairer, progressing from manufacturing to the satellite pre-integration phase. Once complete, the repairman will be able to capture and remove multiple satellites in a single mission, once they have reached the end of their operational life in low Earth orbit.

Satellites provide society with vital services including weather forecasting, disaster management, GPS, data for banking systems and broadband. If the orbital environment becomes too crowded, we risk losing connectivity at work and in communities. That’s why Sunrise program partners are working together to find solutions for the responsible management of space debris.

Massimiliano Ladovaz, Chief Technology Officer at OneWeb, said, “Responsible space is central to our mission at OneWeb, and we are committed to adopting sustainable practices in all environments in which we operate. The development of the ELSA-M repairer prototype is another important step towards a responsible approach to space, ensuring that our satellites can be de-orbited and that the environment in low Earth orbit is protected as a natural and shared resource.

John Auburn, Managing Director of Astroscale Ltd., adds, “We are putting our telecommunications services at risk if we don’t start cleaning up the space. Astroscale’s ELSA-M Repairer is designed to build on our ELSA-d demonstration mission to clean up orbital debris. This spacecraft will demonstrate our innovative rendezvous, capture, and deorbit capabilities with a life-size constellation client.

“We plan to launch our commercial service for satellite operators, such as OneWeb and others, shortly after the in-orbit demonstration, with a vision to integrate debris clearance into routine operations by 2030. We are very grateful to the UK and the European space. agencies for their continued support in the development of this innovative technology, leading to our commercial services that will contribute to a sustainable economy in space.

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “Ensuring responsible use of space is essential to protect today’s interconnected world, as our digital economy and society rely on the ability to communicate. I am proud of ESA’s record in fostering innovation in the space industry in Europe, in delivering new ways to ensure the sustainable use of space, and the role that projects play partnership of ESA as a trusted partner for investors, operators and industry. ”

UK Science Minister George Freeman said: “With thousands of satellites already in orbit and thousands more launched every year, solving the problem of space debris and finding new ways to dispose of missing spacecraft and other types of space waste is increasingly important. importance – both to reduce the cost of debris damage to satellite operators and to ensure that space is safe and sustainable.

“That’s why the UK government has made space sustainability a key theme in our national space strategy, and it’s fantastic to see UK companies Astroscale Ltd. and OneWeb playing a leading role in this the European Space Agency, helping us to continue to show the UK’s technological leadership in this important area.

Paul Bate, Director General of the UK Space Agency, said: “Space debris threatens the satellites we depend on every day for vital services, such as navigation, banking and communications.

“That’s why the UK is taking action, funding new commercial technologies to clear space debris and working with international partners to lead efforts to promote sustainability.” This latest phase of the Sunrise program partnership between the European Space Agency, Astroscale Ltd. and OneWeb will develop an innovative spacecraft service to remove multiple missing satellites, putting the UK at the forefront of efforts to clean up space.

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