Swiss-based startup ClearSpace has closed a €26.7M ($28.9M) Series A. The in-orbit servicing and active space debris removal startup will use the funding to accelerate its progress towards missions on the horizon.
“The market is now developing, much faster than we had expected, and we look forward to accelerating our activities to meet the urgent needs of space sustainability,” said ClearSpace CEO Luc Piguet and CTO Muriel Richard-Noca in a joint statement.
The round was co-led by OTB Ventures (backed by the European Investment Fund under its InvestEU program) and Swisscom Ventures, with participation from the Luxembourg Future Fund, Lakestar, In-Q-Tel, Happiness Capital, and 600 T Space Investments.
As part of the financing, ClearSpace will set up shop in Luxembourg. A Luxembourg office will allow ClearSpace to “benefit from the strong space and satellite focus” in the country.
The company’s first mission is expected to launch in 2026, under an €86M contract from the European Space Agency (ESA).
ESA has stated that the mission was procured as a service contract in order to help kickstart a new market for in-orbit servicing and active debris removal (ADR).
Unlike many other ADR demo missions, ClearSpace-1 will not remove a dummy target object launched with it, but rather an active space debris target currently in orbit. The target is a 112 kg payload adapter from the second flight of Avio’s Vega launch vehicle in 2013. The adaptor is the size of a small satellite, in a 600–800 km altitude orbit.
The ClearSpace-1 chaser spacecraft will be deployed into a 500 km orbit for commissioning and critical tests. It will then be raised to the target orbit for rendezvous and capture using four robotic arms. The spacecraft with the payload adapter will then perform a destructive deorbit (i.e., both craft will burn up upon atmospheric reentry).
ClearSpace expects the mission to be the first of many as the industry becomes ever more cognizant of the dangers of inaction on space debris.