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Astroscale Receives ESA Funding for 2024 ELSA-M Debris Removal Mission 

By Rachel Jewett | May 27, 2022

The European Space Agency, UK Space Agency, OneWeb and Astroscale met to finalize the details of the Sunrise Programme contract in May 2022. Photo: OneWeb/Astroscale

Astroscale’s U.K. subsidiary received 14.8 million euros ($16 million) in funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) for its ELSA-M servicer mission, which is developed in partnership with OneWeb, the United Kingdom Space Agency, and ESA

Astroscale announced the funding on May 27, and that the mission is set to launch near the end of 2024. The funding comes from the Sunrise Partnership Programme between ESA, the U.K. Space Agency, and OneWeb to support advanced technologies. This funding will support Astroscale’s U.K. subsidiary and its U.K. partners to complete the design of the ELSA-M servicer, including manufacturing and satellite pre-integration phase. 

The servicer is the next step in debris removal technologies from Astroscale following the ELSA-d mission. It will be designed to capture and remove multiple satellites in a single mission from Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). During the mission the spacecraft will demonstrate our rendezvous, capture and de-orbit capabilities with a full-size constellation client. 

John Auburn, managing director of Astroscale Ltd., said the company plans to launch commercial service for satellite operators including OneWeb after the in-orbit demonstration. 

“The development of the ELSA-M servicer prototype is another significant milestone towards a responsible approach to space, ensuring that our satellites can be deorbited and that the low Earth orbit environment is protected as a natural and shared resource,” commented Massimiliano Ladovaz, OneWeb CTO.