First UK mission to remove space debris on course in Oxfordshire
Astroscale has revealed how it will get rid of ‘junk’ above the Earth’s atmosphere, alongside the UK Space Agency. As the government plans to lead the global effort to remove space debris, Astroscale based in Harwell has unveiled its solution.
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The COSMIC mission – Cleaning Outer Space Mission through Innovative Capture – will harness Astroscale’s Rendezvous and Proximity Operations and robotic debris capture capabilities, to remove two defunct British satellites currently orbiting Earth by 2026.
They are currently working with partners to design a spacecraft, that will incorporate a robotic arm to capture a defunct satellite in low Earth orbit.
The device will then release the debris into a lower orbit where it will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The COSMIC mission is being developed in collaboration with 10 UK-based partner companies in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland combining extensive systems engineering, Guidance, Navigation and Control, mission operations and ground segment expertise.
Sarah Cawley, Senior Project Manager for COSMIC at Astroscale said: “Active Debris Removal means we’re trying to grab hold of an object in space that was not designed with capture in mind.
“In LEO, objects are hurtling through space at 17,000 miles [27,360 km] per hour. Our job is to design a spacecraft that can approach the unprepared satellite, analyse its behaviour and trajectory, and then manoeuvre to capture it safely. Our in-house engineering expertise and in-orbit heritage puts us in a leading position to turn this innovative solution into a reality and help the UK Government realise the ambition to launch a national mission to remove space debris, through national capability and partnerships.”
Nick Shave, Managing Director of Astroscale UK said: “We now offer a variety of in-orbit services across the company, providing satellite operators with robust and responsible solutions. ADR is focused on the removal of defunct satellites or unprepared debris. We are excited to draw on our mission heritage and to partner with the UK Space Agency on this mission-first for the nation. Through COSMIC, Astroscale is pushing the commercial in-orbit servicing economy forward, developing national capability, world-leading facilities, and strong partnerships across the whole of the UK.”
The UK’s Active Debris Removal Mission Is scheduled to take place in 2025.