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ClearSpace-1 mission reviews debris target

The ClearSpace-1 mission is reviewing its debris removal target after detecting untraceable debris near its last client object.

Above: Artistic image of Proba-1 in orbit.
© ClearSpace

After the successful completion of the mission’s first phase (Key Performance Gate 1) by ClearSpace, the detection of space debris objects in the vicinity of the mission’s client object indicating a collision of the target with untraceable debris and the need for a change towards a more expedited and cost-effective approach has prompted a pivot in the next stage of the ClearSpace-1 mission.

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Following a technical and programmatic review between ESA and ClearSpace, the decision was taken to change the debris target, adjust the requirements for the mission and simplify the structure of its industrial team to reduce industrial risks while ensuring a swift and cost-effective execution of this groundbreaking mission.

In this context, ESA gave the green light for the continuation of the preparatory phase which will be implemented by a consortium led by OHB SE, a European space and technology company headquartered in Bremen, Germany, who will provide the satellite bus and be in charge of the system integration and launch.

Meanwhile, ClearSpace will contribute its technical expertise in mission-critical close-proximity and capture operations. All these capabilities are central to the company’s business model, forming the foundation of future commercial in-orbit servicing and debris removal missions, leveraging the state-of-the-art dark room simulation facility built by ClearSpace in Switzerland and strong engineering expertise accumulated on debris removal technologies. This consistent engagement showcases the steadfast dedication of ClearSpace to this landmark mission and to advancing the frontiers of space technology.

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The new ClearSpace-1 mission is now to rendezvous with PROBA-1, the first ESA spacecraft with fully autonomous capabilities and a respected but meanwhile over 20-year old space veteran, capture it and then conduct a perigee decrease manoeuvre. The mission will employ a four-armed capture mechanism to grab the client satellite and, once captured, the stack will safely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up.

‘’We are honoured to collaborate with OHB and remain at the forefront of in-orbit servicing with the ClearSpace-1 mission. We continue pushing the boundaries of in-orbit servicing and lay the foundations of a sustainable space operation. We believe that a strong partnership between startups and established large prime contractors highlights the best of both worlds to build reliable, competitive, and scalable products and services within an agile and dynamic collaboration.’’ said Luc Piguet, ClearSpace CEO.  

The entering into the next phase of the ClearSpace-1 mission is a major milestone for the programme and a confirmation of the importance and commitment that governments and industry are placing on the advancement of sustainable space exploration.

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