Critical Software Joins Consortium to Help Clean Up the Space

September 26, 2022

ClearSpace consortium signs contract with UK Space Agency to remove two inactive objects in Earth orbit.

Critical Software is helping to remove inactive satellites from earth orbit

Critical Software is part of the ClearSpace consortium, which comprises 9 companies, and whose mission is to remove debris from space. The technology company will supply its specialised services for controlling the equipment and detecting and recovering system failures.

The mission, allocated by the UK Space Agency, will ultimately aim to remove two satellites that have been inactive from Earth orbit for more than 10 years. These satellites could remain in orbit for a century if not removed and are located at an altitude of 700 kilometres, endangering the environment and the safety of other active satellites. By removing them, Critical Software and ClearSpace aim to create new ways to remove space junk, reducing the risk of collisions with active space infrastructure underlying many critical systems such as transportation, internet services, climate change monitoring and weather forecasting. 

"We are excited to join ClearSpace as part of this pioneering consortium. There are over five thousand non-functional objects orbiting the Earth and over three thousand active satellites. With the density of this space traffic increasing, removing these objects is increasingly important to help protect satellites from collisions. Working together with our UK office, we want to help pave the way for an era where space is more sustainable by eliminating the growing risk of debris threatening the satellites on which so many critical systems depend." says Rodrigo Pascoal, Business Development Manager at Critical Software.

Rory Holmes, ClearSpace UK Managing Director says: “We are honoured to work with the UK Space Agency to improve the safety and sustainability of our orbital neighbourhoods. We are excited to work with Critical Software on the CLEAR Mission, and we are looking forward to benefiting from their cutting-edge expertise on Spacecraft Software as we address the challenge of space debris together.”

Debris removal is expected to be the fastest growing in-orbit services (IOS) segment, due to the increasing need for operators to protect spacecraft in increasingly congested orbits. In October 2021, the UK Space Agency awarded the ClearSpace consortium to conduct a feasibility study for this mission to remove at least two abandoned satellites from low-Earth orbit (LEO). In this study, consortium members such as Critical Software explored different mission scenarios, defined the requirements and selected the technologies needed to implement the mission. In March 2022, they completed this phase and a new contract was awarded to move on to the mission design phase, which will last until the end of 2023.