ClearSpace secures another UK contract to develop refuelling capabilities

ClearSpace secures another UK contract to develop refuelling capabilities

London, UK 20th February, 2024. ClearSpace is delighted to announce that it has secured a contract with the UK Space Agency to investigate the feasibility of an in-orbit satellite refuelling mission, an exciting new market for in-orbit services.

The REFUEL.ME study, which will run until September 2024, will involve the establishment of 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. 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 continues to thrive as an industry leader in in-orbit services. Their rapidly growing UK subsidiary is currently fully engaged in developing the CLEAR Spacecraft for the UK National Debris Removal mission, and brings significant experience and expertise in this area. The opportunity to utilize existing developments, particular key technologies synonymous across different in-orbit services, maximises value by leveraging the UK’s previous investment into active debris removal, in-orbit services and refuelling interfaces.

With a goal to deliver future commercial refuelling services, ClearSpace is teaming up with key industry partners to form a UK-based consortium with specialized expertise. OrbitFab brings their pioneering expertise in refuelling systems, Satellite Applications Catapult has extensive experience in validating complex Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO) in their dedicated testing facility, and is an industry leader in commercial and economic analysis.

 Rory Holmes, ClearSpace UK Managing Director said:

ClearSpace is committed to making humanity’s space operations sustainable. 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 utilise the wealth of knowledge and expertise available in the UK to develop our concept for a state-of the-art mission that will not only become an indispensable service in the future, but will also help to mitigate the growing issue of space debris.”

Ray Fielding, Head of Space Sustainability at the UK Space Agency said:

Until recently, satellites have been designed as one-shot items: non-refuellable with mission lifespans coming to an end when the satellite can 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”.

The UK Space Agency has invested £2 million for UK industry to research and develop refuelling missions through a set of feasibility studies. The funding will allow industry experts to develop new technologies to refuel satellites in space, leading to extended mission lifetimes, reduced waste and debris and more economical use of vital orbital assets.  This investment is another significant step towards a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable future for space exploration.

About ClearSpace

ClearSpace, an in-orbit servicing (IOS) company created in 2018, is intent on revolutionizing how space missions are conducted. ClearSpace is becoming now a global company with dynamic engineering teams in Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Luxembourg and in the United States. ClearSpace is creating the technologies that will support a wide range of IOS applications, from disposal and in-orbit transport to inspection, assembly, manufacturing, repair, and recycling. ClearSpace aims to support institutions and commercial operators alike to enhance sustainable space operations and promote a circular space economy. 

ClearSpace Media Contact

Hyeonsook Hong Kaiser
[email protected]
Phone: +41 78 211 93 33

The UK Space Agency inspires and leads the UK in space, to benefit our planet and its people. An executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, it:   

  • Supports the work of the UK space sector at home and abroad, maximising its benefit to the UK’s growing economy.  
  • Invests in science and exploration to increase our understanding of the universe and deliver practical and sustainable benefits such as new technologies to improve life on Earth.     
  • Inspires the next generation of UK scientists and engineers.  
  • Promotes global co-operation in space, through the UK’s membership of the European Space Agency and international partnerships. 

You can follow the UK Space Agency on social media at @spacegovuk on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. 

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *