The UK Space Agency has approved Astroscale UK’s space debris removal mission concept, called Clearing Outer Space Mission through Innovative Capture. COSMIC involves the development of a spacecraft with a robotic arm planned for deployment by 2026 to demonstrate rendezvous and proximity operations and the deorbit of two defunct British satellites.
The concept underwent a systems requirements review, which evaluated the initial design of the robotic arm and the spacecraft’s detumbling methods. According to Astroscale, COSMIC will be a “technological evolution” of the End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-Multi-client mission expected to be deployed in 2025 under the Sunrise program, in partnership with the European and U.K. space agencies and OneWeb.
“We are proud to have achieved this key milestone for the first national Active Debris Removal mission, working closely with our U.K.-focused industrial partners and supply chain, which will enable Astroscale to further develop the commercial in-orbit servicing economy supporting the UK Space Agency’s delivery priority to become a leader in space sustainability,” said Nick Shave, managing director of Astroscale UK.
According to a TS2 Space report, COSMIC is competing with ClearSpace UK’s debris removal concept called ClearSpace-1. The UK Space Agency awarded Astroscale and ClearSpace contracts with a combined value of $5 million to develop their proposed missions. COSMIC and ClearSpace-1, which also passed a systems requirements review, will now undergo a preliminary design evaluation in early 2024. UKSA will then select the mission that will launch to low-Earth orbit for a demonstration.