The ClearSpace-1 debris removal mission underwent a transformative period to achieve faster execution pace and reviewed mission objectives.

After the successful completion of the mission’s first phase (Key Performance Gate 1) by ClearSpace, the detection of space debris objects in the vicinity of the mission’s client object indicating a collision of the target with untraceable debris, and the need for a change towards a more expedited and cost-effective approach has prompted a pivot in the next stage of the ClearSpace-1 mission. Following a technical and programmatic review between ESA and ClearSpace, the decision was taken to change the debris target, adjust the requirements for the mission and simplify the structure of its industrial team to reduce industrial risks while ensuring a swift and cost-effective execution of this groundbreaking mission.

In this context, ESA gave the green light for the continuation of the preparatory phase which will be implemented by a consortium led by OHB SE, a European space and technology company headquartered in Bremen, Germany, who will provide the satellite bus and be in charge of the system integration and launch.

Meanwhile, ClearSpace will contribute its technical leadership in mission-critical close-proximity and capture operations. All these capabilities are central to the company’s business model, forming the foundation of future commercial in-orbit servicing and debris removal missions, leveraging the state-of-the-art dark room simulation facility built by ClearSpace in Switzerland and strong engineering expertise accumulated on debris removal technologies. This consistent engagement showcases the steadfast dedication of ClearSpace to this landmark mission and to advancing the frontiers of space technology.

The new ClearSpace-1 mission is now to rendezvous with PROBA-1, the first ESA spacecraft with fully autonomous capabilities and a respected, but meanwhile over 20-year old space veteran, capture it and then conduct a perigee decrease manoeuvre. The mission will employ a four-armed capture mechanism to grab the client satellite and, once captured, the stack will safely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up.

‘’We are honoured to collaborate with OHB and remain at the forefront of in-orbit servicing with the ClearSpace-1 mission. We continue pushing the boundaries of in-orbit servicing and lay the foundations of a sustainable space operation. We believe that a strong partnership between startups and established large prime contractors highlights the best of both worlds to build reliable, competitive, and scalable products and services within an agile and dynamic collaboration.’’ says Luc Piguet, ClearSpace CEO.

The entering into the next phase of the ClearSpace-1 mission is a major milestone for the program and a confirmation of the importance and commitment that governments and industry are placing on the advancement of sustainable space exploration.

ESA update

Clearspace-1 is ESA’s first mission to demonstrate how to remove a piece of space debris from Earth’s orbit. It will rendezvous with, capture and safely bring down a derelict object for a safe atmospheric reentry – the near future of what space experts call Active Debris Removal (ADR). The mission has been procured by ESA as a service contract in 2020 with an industrial team led by Swiss startup ClearSpace in Lausanne. In February 2023, the company and its partners mastered ESA’s Space Safety programme review, after having received the funding for the next phase of the Clearspace-1 mission during ESA’s Ministerial Council in November 2022.

Following this, ESA’s Space Safety Programme Board today gave green light for the continuation of the preparatory phase, which will be implemented by a consortium led by OHB SE, a European space and technology company headquartered in Bremen, Germany, and involving the previous contractor, ClearSpace, who will continue to lead the close-proximity and capture operations.

The Clearspace-1 mission is a cornerstone of ESA’s Space Safety Programme, serving the Zero Debris Approach, the Agency’s bold goal to significantly limit the production of debris in Earth and Lunar orbits by 2030 for all future missions, programmes and activities. At the same time, it serves as a prime example to encourage the worldwide space community to become part of the Zero Debris Charter: Facilitated by ESA’s ‘Protection of Space Assets’ Accelerator and created and written by 40 space actors, the Charter contains both high-level guiding principles and specific, jointly defined targets to get to Zero Debris by 2030.

“We are seeing a dramatically increased use of space, but still insufficient technology to prevent the risks that follow. Our aim to become debris neutral in a few years will require clearing precious Earth orbits once a mission is complete, and if the mission fails to do this, it must be actively removed by dedicated vehicles,” concludes Holger Krag, ESA's Head of Space Safety.

About ClearSpace

ClearSpace, an in-orbit servicing (IOS) company created in 2018, is intent on revolutionizing how space missions are conducted. ClearSpace is becoming now a global company with dynamic engineering teams in Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Luxembourg and in the United States. ClearSpace is creating the technologies that will support a wide range of IOS applications, from disposal and in-orbit transport to inspection, assembly, manufacturing, repair, and recycling. ClearSpace aims to support institutions and commercial operators alike to enhance sustainable space operations and promote a circular space economy.

Source: ClearSpace / ESA

Heilbronn (Germany)/Koonibba (Australia), May 3, 2024 - For the first time, a German company has achieved the "lift-off" of a commercially viable launch vehicle. At the Australian launch site in Koonibba, HyImpulse, a German manufacturer and system provider of commercial launch vehicles for satellite transport, successfully test-launched the 12-metre-long and 2.5-tonne single-stage rocket "SR75", which can transport small satellites weighing up to 250 kg to an altitude of around 250 km. At 14:40 PM ACST or 7:10 AM CET, the launch vehicle lifted off successfully and the hybrid rocket propulsion system of the launch vehicle operated as planned. After the successful lift-off, the SR75 will be retrieved for further examination and analysis of the data.

HyImpulse introduces a groundbreaking propulsion concept with its rockets, utilizing solid paraffin (commonly known as candle wax) and liquid oxygen as fuel. Paraffin, being both costeffective and inherently safe as a fuel, serves as an alternative to conventional liquid or solid fuels and does not have the risk to explode. This innovative design significantly simplifies the construction of launch vehicles, cutting costs by a remarkable 40 percent compared to traditional propulsion systems. As a result, satellite transportation expenses are reduced by an impressive 50 percent, demonstrating HyImpulse's commitment to affordable access to space. Dr. Mario Kobald, co-founder and co-CEO of HyImpulse: " Setting up a commercial launch vehicle equipped with entirely new propulsion technology up for launch and lift-off with such an efficient team and a relatively small budget is quite a feat. We're signaling Germany's prowess as a spacefaring nation and expanding Europe's access to space. Already, we're planning the launch of a larger, multi-stage transport launch vehicle capable of deploying satellites weighing up to 600 kilograms into low Earth orbits by the end of next year."

Dr. Christian Schmierer, co-founder and co-CEO of HyImpulse: "With this successful launch, which also provides us with valuable data for further development, we have validated our technical concept and demonstrated our market readiness. Our utilization concept is designed for the cost-effective transport of small satellites into space. This enables the implementation of privately funded environmental and climate projects, research projects, as well as navigation, telecommunications, and more. The demand for commercial launch vehicles for the transportation of satellites in Europe is substantial. Accordingly, with a volume well exceeding 100 million Euro, our order book is already substantial and continues to grow monthly." The SL1 multi-stage orbital launch vehicle, scheduled for its inaugural lift-off by the end of 2025, stands at a height of 32 meters and weighs 50 tons. Depending on the weight of the payload, it can ascend to an altitude exceeding 500 km, i.e. reaching low Earth orbits. Designed for costeffective transportation of small satellites into space, it can carry payloads of up to 600 kilograms to low Earth orbits.

About HyImpulse

HyImpulse Technologies GmbH is a leading German manufacturer and system provider of commercial launch vehicles for suborbital and orbital launch services. Our small satellite launch vehicles with unique hybrid launch vehicle propulsion made of oxygen and paraffin set new standards in the commercial space sector. With over 65 employees at sites in Neuenstadt, Ottobrunn and Glasgow, we develop rockets to transport commercial payloads efficiently, sustainably, and reliably into low earth orbits and into orbit.

Source: Hylmpulse

SAN FRANCISCO, MAY 6, 2024 — Capella Space Corp., an American space tech company that provides data and satellite solutions for government and commercial applications, today announced the release of automated, AI-powered Vessel Classification for Capella Space’s high resolution, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery. Vessel Classification is fully integrated with Capella’s secure tasking web application and API, enabling users to order the analytic at the same time they place a Tasking request. Users can also order Vessel Classification on imagery available in Capella’s extensive historical archive for deeper time series analysis.

The Capella Space Vessel Classification offering streamlines analyst workflows by automating vessel detection and classification, so users know exactly where to look and what they are looking at in any image. Today, many generalized models are available off the shelf, but Vessel Classification leverages the complex nature of SAR and is specifically tuned to Capella’s high-resolution imagery offerings. Vessel Classification is powered by EMSI, a company specializing in innovative geospatial intelligence with decades of experience the US Department of Defense and Intelligence community’s stringent SAR requirements, especially monitoring vessels moving in the maritime domain. EMSI enhances state-of-the-art AI and machine learning practices with its deep SAR expertise to deliver unparalleled insights directly to Capella’s customers.

“When it comes to intelligence, speed and accuracy is of the essence. Capella’s all-in-one Tasking platform is not only convenient, but also effectively minimizes the latency from tasking to intelligence extraction,” said Dan Getman, VP of Product at Capella Space. “Coupled with Capella’s high-quality and high-resolution imagery, Vessel Classification simplifies the power of SAR to make 24/7, all-weather insights more accessible than ever.”

Capella’s fully automated and secure platform enables customers to order high-resolution SAR imagery with Vessel Classification for deeper insights across the globe including near-shore and port locations. Vessel Classification brings rich geospatial intelligence across diverse use cases in the maritime domain including supply chain analysis, tracking macro-economic indicators and monitoring patterns of life. Customers will have greater access to critical information about vessels moving to and from ports, across choke points and through exclusive economic zones.

In addition to Vessel Classification, Capella Space has built an extensive imagery archive granting customers access to deep image stacks across hundreds of ports, providing more information and more comprehensive time series analysis within maritime domain.

About Capella Space

Capella Space is an American space tech company with data and satellite solutions for government and commercial use. A pioneer in the Earth observation industry, Capella is the first U.S. company with a constellation of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites, delivering high quality, high resolution SAR imagery. Capella provides easy access to frequent and timely information affecting dozens of industries worldwide, including defense and intelligence, supply chain, insurance, maritime and others. Its market-leading SAR satellites are matched with unparalleled data infrastructure to quickly deliver reliable global insights that sharpen our understanding of the changing world – improving decisions about commerce, conservation, and security on Earth. Headquartered in San Francisco, California with additional locations in Denver, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

Source: Capella Space

Seattle,WA - April 30, 2024 - Portal Space Systems, a Seattle-based space startup, announces its emergence from stealth with over $3 million in funding from the Department of Defense (DOD) and Space Force to support the development and launch of its revolutionary Supernova satellite bus. Led by industry veteran Jeff Thornburg, architect of SpaceX’s Raptor engine, former head of Mechanical Engineering & Manufacturing at Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and former Chief of Engineering at Commonwealth Fusion, Portal Space Systems will empower the next generation of space operators to maintain space superiority.

Portal Space Systems was founded by industry leader Jeff Thornburg, alongside COO Ian Vorbach and VP of Engineering Prashaanth Ravindran, and is dedicated to solving the emerging need for rapid and long-range mobility in space. Their flagship product, the Supernova satellite bus, is engineered from the ground up for maneuverability and features a novel solar-thermal propulsion system. With a payload-agnostic design and 500 kg mass, Supernova boasts a remarkable 6 km/s delta-v, setting a new standard for in-space mobility with 50 times the range of existing products on the market. 

That means that the system can perform currently impossible mission needs, like moving from Low Earth Orbit to geostationary orbit in hours or even the moon in just days.

“The space industry hasn’t fundamentally improved satellite bus technology in decades. Our nation is developing 6th-generation fighter aircraft technology but still uses 1st-generation satellite buses. Portal's Supernova is designed around the customer need for unparalleled mobility and extended mission life," said Jeff Thornburg, CEO of Portal Space Systems and former architect of SpaceX's Raptor Engine. "Our novel solar-thermal propulsion system and bus design, combined with our compatibility to support any customer payload, sets us apart. We provide an over 50x improvement in current spacecraft mobility. For our customers, that means the ability to have spacecraft on orbit that are able to respond in real-time to events in any orbital regime.”

Portal Space Systems has garnered significant support from the United States Space Force, positioning the company as a key partner in advancing national interests in space. "We are proud to develop solutions that enhance our nation's space capabilities by building in constant collaboration with our government partners," said Ian Vorbach, COO of Portal Space Systems. Portal Space Systems' vision for dynamic space operations, tactical responsiveness, and maneuverability without regret is set to redefine the future of space. They are targeting the first launch of its Supernova system in late 2025. 


Portal Space Systems is a Seattle-based space start-up founded in 2021. It is led by space technology leader Jeff Thornburg and supported by COO Ian Vorbach and Vice President of Engineering Prashaanth Ravindran. Portal Space Systems is a full-service space maneuverability solution that offers tactical responsiveness and dynamic space operations via its flagship product, the Supernova satellite bus. Supernova is payload-agnostic with 500 kg of payload capacity and is powered by a novel solar-thermal propulsion system providing industry-leading 6 km/s delta-v. Portal Space Systems is launching the first Supernova in late 2025. 

Source: Portal Space Systems

Seattle,Washington April 25th, 2024 – Gravitics, Inc. announced today it has been awarded a $1.7M Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Direct-to-Phase II contract from SpaceWERX. In partnership with Space Systems Command’s Space Safari Program Office, this effort will focus on a new mission area for Gravitics, Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS). Under this contract, Gravitics will leverage its commercial space station product architecture to develop orbital platforms that will enable rapid and flexible response options for the United States Space Force. Gravitics’ commercial space station modules can support a wide range of military and civilian applications, including in-space rapid response applications.

“We are looking at all options to meet the mission on tactically relevant timelines. The Gravitics space station module offers an unconventional and potentially game-changing solution for TacRS,” said Lt Col Jason Altenhofen, Space Safari’s Director of Operations. “As we look into the future, the innovative use of commercial technologies will be an important aspect to solving some of our toughest challenges.”

Developing and manufacturing commercial space station modules will continue to be at the core of our company mission,” said Colin Doughan, CEO of Gravitics. “Gravitics is thrilled to have the opportunity to offer these commercial capabilities to the Department of Defense. Gravitics is supported by several partners under this contract, including Rocket Lab USA, True Anomaly, Space Exploration Engineering, and Eta Space. These partners will assist in refining mission architecture, developing use-case specific outfitting, and developing flight hardware.

About Gravitics:

Founded in 2021, Gravitics, Inc. is an aerospace company that designs and manufactures large space structures, including pressurized space station modules–the building blocks for scalable space platforms. Gravitics is enabling a new era in human and robotic utilization of low earth orbit and beyond.

About Space Safari:

The Space Safari Program Office, under U.S. Space Force Space Systems Command (SSC), was created in January 2021 to respond to high-priority, urgent space needs by rapidly acquiring, integrating, and executing missions in support of USSPACECOM requirements and other combatant commander urgent operational needs.

Space Safari is the lead organization driving the USSF forward on cutting edge Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) capabilities. This requires an end-to-end approach for employing space capabilities to provide options to commanders responding to threats in space. Space Safari is active across the entire spectrum of the TacRS mission set, to include acquiring space vehicles, integrating payload sensors, modifying ground architecture, developing concept of operations for mission planning, shaping mission parameters to address specific missions, and conducting initial on-orbit operations. Space Safari is also actively engaging with community partners on policies/procedures, tabletop exercises, and evaluation of operational concepts.

About SpaceWERX:

As the innovation arm of the U.S. Space Force and a unique division within AFWERX, SpaceWERX inspires and empowers collaboration with innovators to accelerate capabilities and shape our future in space. Headquartered in Los Angeles, SpaceWERX employs 28 military, civilian and contractor personnel executing an annual $457 million budget. Since it was aligned under AFRL in Aug. 2021, SpaceWERX has executed 906 contracts worth more than $690 million to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability.


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