ClearSpace, the innovative Swiss start-up with mission to make the booming commercial space economy more sustainable, affordable and resilient, has announced the formation of a UK subsidiary, its first significant engineering presence outside of Switzerland. The new ClearSpace facility has the potential to create more than 20 high-skill jobs as part of the company’s drive to deliver a wide range of in-orbit services, including orbital debris removal, in-orbit transport, and satellite life extension.
Since its formation in 2018, ClearSpace has innovated rapidly and has recently signed an €86.2M in-orbit service contract with the European Space Agency to remove orbital debris, the first step in cleaning up Space for future generations. The formation of ClearSpace Today Ltd will allow critical parts of that ClearSpace-1 Mission, and other future commercial missions, to be developed in the UK.
ClearSpace’s UK lead Rory Holmes said:
“We are thrilled to be part of the thriving UK space ecosystem and are excited to build our engineering presence here, tapping into the highly-relevant experience that exists within the high-tech talent pool and the local industry.
“We are very grateful for the invaluable support provided by the UK Space Agency and the Department for International Trade throughout the setup of our UK subsidiary.”
The UK is Europe’s largest contributor to ESA projects to remove debris from Space. Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
“I want the UK to be the destination of choice for the world’s most enterprising space companies, and it is brilliant news that ClearSpace has chosen to carry out its world-leading work here.
“This ambitious project to clean up space will help create highly skilled jobs for the UK’s thriving space sector while ensuring that the scientific and commercial exploration of space remains sustainable for generations to come.”
Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone said:
“I welcome Clearspace to the UK’s dynamic and cutting-edge space industry where they will be able to carry out their important work to remove orbital debris.”
“Space will increasingly play a role in growing UK prosperity through high skilled jobs and investment in R&D, providing solutions to some of our shared global problems. I am excited to see how Clearspace, through developing their UK capability, will be a key part of addressing these.”
ClearSpace CEO and co-founder Luc Piguet said:
“Space sustainability and resilient operations is a challenge at the global scale – now is the time to build capabilities that will make our space operations more sustainable and affordable. We need to ambitiously grow space activities while safeguarding this precious environment for future generations.”
“We are enthusiastic to expand our team in the UK to develop key enabling technologies and to foster robust partnerships with other forward-thinking companies and organizations.”
ClearSpace-1 will be the first space mission to remove an item of debris from orbit, planned for launch in 2025. UK Space Agency International Director Alice Bunn said:
“Space represents the future of our economy, but we must make use of it sustainably. With thousands of pieces of space debris, including defunct satellites, rocket bodies and launch adapters remaining in orbit, the need for new techniques and technologies to remove them could not be greater.
“We want UK to be the best place for space and are committed to delivering access to skills, investment, and regulatory reform to make that happen.”
ClearSpace SA, a Swiss start-up founded in Lausanne in 2018, brings together space experts including astronauts, engineers and researchers from all over the world at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne). They aim to harness their respective talents to clean up space debris and build the future of in-orbit services. The team of experts were originally hired for an academic mission to bring down SwissCube, a cubesat launched in 2009 by EPFL, but they left the University in 2012 to focus on ClearSpace-1, their mission for the European Space Agency (ESA). On 13 November 2020, ClearSpace signed a contract worth 86 million euros with ESA to send their first robot cleaner into space in 2025.