Spacewatch: Astroscale to lead Esa space collision avoidance study

With tens of thousands of satellites planned for launch, efficient space traffic management is vital

Astroscale has been awarded an €800,000 contract by the European Space Agency (Esa) to lead a study into new systems for avoiding collisions between satellites in space.

Tens of thousands of satellites are being planned for launch in the next decade, dwarfing the number sent up since the beginning of the space age. As the skies become more crowded, efficient space traffic management becomes critical.

Constant ducking and diving reduces a satellite’s lifespan by depleting its fuel. So the study aims to develop automated systems that can determine the likelihood of orbital collisions with greater accuracy, thus reducing the number of false alarms and unnecessary avoidance manoeuvres.

As far as possible, these computations will be performed onboard the individual satellites, removing the need for so much contact with ground controllers.

The study will be performed as part of the collision risk estimation and automated mitigation activities within Esa’s safety programme. Based at the Harwell Space Cluster, Astroscale will partner with GMV and OneWeb.

In November, at the Paris peace forum, Astroscale and GMV helped launch the Net Zero Space initiative, pledging to “achieve the sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of all humankind by 2030”.

Contributor

Stuart Clark

The GuardianTramp

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