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ClearSpace Wins UKSA in-orbit Satellite Refueling Contract

ClearSpace
Credit: ClearSpace

Ibadan, 20 February 2024. – ClearSpace has secured a contract with the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to investigate the feasibility of an in-orbit satellite refueling mission. 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, before continuing to refuel other commercial satellites. Extending satellite lifetimes in this manner ensures that satellite operators can retain such valuable assets for longer, reducing the frequency of replacement and aiding the reduction of further space debris generated by defunct satellites.

Speaking on the contract, Rory Holmes, ClearSpace UK Managing Director, said, “ClearSpace commits to making humanity’s space operations sustainable. The funding received from the UK Space Agency to establish our national refueling 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.”

Similarly, Ray Fielding, Head of Space Sustainability at the UK Space Agency, said, “Until recently, satellites have been one-shot items: non-refuelable with mission lifespans coming to an end when the satellite can no longer maneuvre effectively. This funding shows the UK Space Agency is leading work to develop UK capabilities in performing in-orbit tasks, such as refueling, and demonstrating leadership in more sustainable space operations.”

The UKSA 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.

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