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OneWeb, Astroscale, and the UK and European Space Agencies partner to launch space junk servicer ELSA-M with €14.8 million investment

By Eric Van Rees - 30th May 2022 - 11:21

OneWeb together with Astroscale will seek to safeguard the satellite economy with ground-breaking new spacecraft technology, thanks in part to a new investment of €14.8 million.

he mission to demonstrate Astroscale’s ELSA-M servicer will launch towards the end of 2024, with ambitious plans to deliver a debris removal service to satellite operators thereafter.

The announcement builds upon Sunrise, a Partnership Programme launched in 2019 between the European Space Agency (ESA) and OneWeb to support the advancement of next generation technologies ranging from artificial intelligence for flying the satellites to new payload and user terminal technology to supporting research in active debris removal. This latest funding agreement, will be in support of Astroscale Ltd. and their UK partners, and will complete the design of the ELSA-M servicer, progressing through manufacturing up to the satellite pre-integration phase. Once complete, the servicer will be capable of capturing and removing multiple satellites in a single mission, once they reach 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 our orbital environment becomes too congested, we risk losing connectivity at work and in communities. That is why the Sunrise Programme Partners are working together to find solutions for 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 sustainable practices in all the environments in which we operate. The development of the ELSA-M servicer prototype is another significant milestone towards a responsible approach to space, ensuring that our satellites can be deorbited and that the low Earth orbit environment is protected as a natural and shared resource.”

Read More: Satellite Imaging Aerospace

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