Astroscale UK Receives Grant to Strengthen UK-Japan Collaboration in Space

Posted August 21st, 2023 Posted in News

Harwell, UK, August 18, 2023 – Astroscale UK, in partnership with Astroscale Japan, Orbit Fab, and CGI, is pleased to announce the award of a Phase 1 UK Space Agency International Bilateral Fund grant.

This grant aims to foster stronger relations between the United Kingdom (UK) and Japan, unlocking investment opportunities in the rapidly evolving space industry. 

Under this initiative, Astroscale UK will collaborate with Astroscale Japan, Orbit Fab, and CGI to explore the following key areas of cooperation: the development of responsible behaviour norms for Rendezvous & Proximity Operations (RPO), the use of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and SSA data to support and verify RPO missions, and the advancement of refuelling capabilities in the low-Earth orbit (LEO) environment.

These strategic focus areas align with the mutual interests of both nations and hold significant potential for future growth and innovation.

One of the significant advantages of this partnership is the use of Astroscale’s ADRAS-J mission as a real-life case study. Selected by JAXA for Phase I of its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration Project (CRD2), ADRAS-J is scheduled for lift-off in JFY 2023. The responsible behaviour norms developed for RPO through this collaboration and SSA data to support these activities will be benchmarked with the ADRAS-J mission, ensuring safer and more efficient operations in space.  Moreover, this bilateral partnership will pave the way for future refuelling missions, expanding the frontiers of space exploration and technology.  

“Working closely with our industrial colleagues and partners in Japan has always been a priority for us,” said Nick Shave, Managing Director at Astroscale UK. “This project will allow us to reinforce and deepen our working relationship, and further strengthen the ties between the UK and Japan in the space domain. Working internationally, we can develop new opportunities, drive innovation and create a sustainable space environment for future generations.”

“This grant signifies an exciting milestone for Astroscale UK and our partners,” said Dr. Jason Forshaw, Head of Future Business at Astroscale UK. “We are well positioned to cultivate strong and fruitful relations with Japan, leveraging our advanced technological capabilities, global leadership in space policy, and foreign direct investment to contribute to the growth and development of the UK space sector. This collaboration builds upon the success of the Minister of State in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman’s collaboration agreement and strengthens our commitment to international cooperation in the space business.”  

The UK Space Agency is equally enthusiastic about the prospects offered by this initiative. Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said “Working with other space agencies and organisations across the globe through our International Bilateral Fund allows us to draw on skills that enhance our homegrown expertise and capabilities, drive up investment in the UK, and support world-class science and discovery. 

“Astroscale’s work with both its counterpart in Japan and Orbit Fab in the UK to explore in-orbit servicing investment channels highlights the many ways in which we can collaborate with the global space community to help humanity push the boundaries of space innovation and unlock commercial opportunities that will benefit our economy now and in the future.” 

Astroscale UK’s Phase 1 project focuses on establishing a solid framework for collaboration and building relationships with key stakeholders. Phase 2, scheduled to commence in March 2024 and run for 12 months, will capitalise on joint programmes and initiatives, including the development of commercial refuelling services and the verification of proposed RPO behaviour norms, in addition to investigating the role of SSA in supporting these missions.  

Astroscale UK is poised to leverage the developments resulting from this project for its future missions, particularly in the areas of RPO and SSA. Building on current missions, the potential for a bilateral refuelling mission presents exciting prospects for future collaboration between the UK and Japan.