The European Space Agency announced April 1 that it is inviting European industry and academia to submit ideas for in-orbit servicing missions.
The first stage “request for information” solicitation invites industry and academia to submit proposals for in-orbit servicing missions including refuelling, refurbishment, assembly, manufacturing, and recycling. Respondents are asked to not only propose a solution but a potential customer for the mission.
“The aim for ESA is to contribute to creating and capturing new demand in Europe by fostering the service-offering side and to stimulate and enable the demand side of a developing market in the wider context of commercial in-orbit servicing,” said ESA director general Josef Aschbacher. “This new initiative and the request for information are part of that effort.”
Winning proposals are expected to be put forward for development at ESA’s next ministerial council meeting in 2022.
Interested parties are asked to submit their proposals via ESA’s Open Space Innovation Platform, the agency’s primary portal for the submission of novel ideas for space technology and applications.
The deadline for submissions is mid-May with the evaluation of submissions beginning on May 18.
In addition to ESA’s attempts to stimulate the in-orbit servicing industry, the agency is also pursuing the world’s first attempt to remove debris from orbit.
Slated to be launched in 2025, the ClearSpace-1 mission will target a Vega Secondary Payload Adapter upper stage left in an approximately 800 km by 660 km altitude orbit following the launch of a Vega mission in 2013.
The “chaser” spacecraft will utilise four robotic arms to capture the target before completing a destructive deorbit burn.