Astroscale starts work on debris removal satellite
September 28, 2022
By Chris Forrester
Astroscale, the UK and European subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings, has opened its new Zeus satellite manufacturing and operations facilities at the Harwell Science & Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, UK.
This new, advanced UK facility will enable Astroscale to build satellite debris removal servicer satellites, and rapidly develop their commercial offering in the coming years, helping to further contribute to the growth, innovation, and manufacturing potential of the UK space sector.
“We want debris removal and in-orbit servicing to be part of routine operations by 2030. We can only deliver this through working in close partnership with government and industry stakeholders who share our ambition to push the boundaries of innovation and space technology,” said Nick Shave, MD of Astroscale Ltd. “Together we can create an in-orbit economy and new high-value jobs that will ensure space remains safe and sustainable for future generations.”
The move from Astroscale’s previous premises to the new facility, Zeus, marks a 900 percent increase in space, covering approximately 20,000 square feet to accommodate a high specification satellite manufacturing facility, a satellite operations centre, and offices for 120 staff.
“With nearly 5,000 operational satellites and over 30,000 pieces of trackable debris, the ability to operate safely in space is growing increasingly challenging,” said Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency. “The UK is leading efforts to make space more sustainable and we’re backing companies, such as Astroscale, to design innovative new missions to clear hazardous space junk. It’s fantastic to see this state of the art facility open, bringing new capabilities to the UK and creating more than 100 jobs at the Harwell Space Cluster.”
In addition, Astroscale has shown its international reach, developed from its roots in Asia (Japan, Singapore), into the UK in 2017, the USA (2019) and Israel (2020). Inward investment and British investment, both government and private sector, will remain critical at this transformational stage of the in-orbit servicing market.
“This is transformational moment for us as a fast-growing space business to open our own facilities that will design and manufacture Astroscale debris removal and satellite servicing satellites in the UK,” adds Shave. “We also plan to harness our long-standing partnership with the Satellite Applications Catapult on space mission operations for future in-orbit servicing missions including our ELSA-M multi-client removal servicer, and to evaluate utilisation of the STFC National Space Test Facility at Harwell. This is also a milestone moment for Astroscale, as we create a new home for our 120 staff, many of whom will soon start working on the recently announced UK Space Agency Active Debris Removal Mission to remove two defunct satellites from Low Earth Orbit.”