The agency is looking to develop ideas for space debris removal missions, and it has extended the cut-off point from midnight 13 July to midnight 19 July 2021.
The UKSA says orbital congestion and space debris is one of the biggest global challenges facing the space sector. It writes:
“Active Debris Removal (ADR) and In Orbit Servicing (IOS) are likely to be crucial, in future, to ensure orbital debris do not overwhelm orbits. Whilst the commercial market for ADR and IOS services is still maturing, the market for IOS services could be worth up to $1bn to the UK by 20301. The potential economic gain from conducting IOS missions could, for the UK, be matched by longer term strategic benefits by being among the first movers in this new market. For example, developing the national skills, expertise and robotics capability needed to conduct IOS will enable UK industry to support other ambitious space projects like orbital assembly or space-based power generation.”
“To support our aims we are now requesting proposals for feasibility studies of a future Active Debris Removal mission. The studies we are requesting now could pave the way to a UK-led mission launching in 2025 to de-orbit of two or more targets from Low Earth Orbit. Crucially we also intend this ADR mission to enable, pending future decisions, further steps in a sequential suite of missions to conduct in-orbit servicing or assembly operations.”
The call for proposals was originally made 3 June 2021.
Image: Clearspace-1 – Planned for 2025, the mission’s satellite will use a pincer motion to collect its targeted object, before giving it a controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere
See also: ESA highlights the growing cost of space debris