CLEARSPACE AND ORBIT FAB PARTNER TO CREATE IN-SPACE REFUELING SERVICE

Credit: ClearSpace

Lafayette, Colorado/Renens, Switzerland – January 24, 2024 – ClearSpace, a global leader in in-orbit servicing, and Orbit Fab, the premier provider of on-orbit refueling services, today announced a multi-faceted strategic partnership to advance in-space refueling and servicing capabilities that will revolutionize space operations and serve as a foundation for a vibrant and sustainable space economy. Under the memorandum of understanding (MoU), Orbit Fab and ClearSpace will develop key enabling technologies, building on their initial collaborative work that began several years ago. The two companies will leverage their complementary capabilities and missions to accelerate the availability of propellants in space by creating a refueling service architecture pairing an Orbit Fab fuel depot with a ClearSpace shuttle.

Market demand for in-orbit refueling reflects the need for unconstrained in-space mobility and the value of extending the operational utility of critical space assets. The US Space Force considers Space Mobility and Logistics (SML) as one of its core competencies, and in-orbit refueling directly addresses the challenge of replenishing spacecraft consumables. Furthermore, refueling will become a key competitive advantage for operators of commercial satellites and service vehicles. Orbit Fab is already supporting ClearSpace with the design of its CLEAR mission for active debris removal, funded by the UK Space Agency, to enable the service vehicle to be refueled and reused.

The development of ClearSpace’s refueling shuttle adds to the growing ecosystem of service providers, building on the standards and vision established by Orbit Fab’s foundational work in fuel depot development and fuel transfer interfaces. Its RAFTI™ (Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) refueling ports and its GRIP™ robotic docking devices are already being integrated aboard a fast-growing number of vehicles, with RAFTI™ slated for integration on more than a dozen spacecraft, and GRIP™ being baselined on another five. By combining Orbit Fab’s fuel transfer expertise with ClearSpace’s vision system and RPO capabilities, ClearSpace expands its in-orbit service portfolio and Orbit Fab extends the reach of its fuel distribution services, resulting in the creation of a competitive, commercial marketplace for turn-key, in-orbit refueling services.

“Orbit Fab is the clear leader in satellite refueling, and ClearSpace is excited to partner with them as we explore possibilities for advancing new servicing and refueling capabilities that will ultimately benefit everyone participating in the space economy and beyond,” said Luc Piguet, ClearSpace Co-Founder and CEO. “ClearSpace and Orbit Fab are seeing growing demand in the U.S., UK, and around the world for service vehicles and refueling as government and commercial operators seek to boost the ROI of their missions and extend operations.”

“ClearSpace is developing key technologies that will unlock opportunities for last-mile fuel delivery in both GEO and LEO, and we’re delighted to see our collaboration with ClearSpace push the boundaries of what is possible today,” noted Daniel Faber, Orbit Fab Founder and CEO. “Our RAFTI and GRIP refueling systems are the interfaces of choice for secure, sustainable in-space refueling operations, and our work with ClearSpace, both in the US and in the UK, is revolutionizing the capabilities that make extended satellite operations a reality.”

About ClearSpace

ClearSpace, an in-orbit servicing (IOS) company created in 2018, is intent on revolutionizing how space missions are conducted. ClearSpace is becoming now a global company with dynamic engineering teams in Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Luxembourg and in the United States. ClearSpace is creating the technologies that will support a wide range of IOS applications, from disposal and in-orbit transport to inspection, assembly, manufacturing, repair, and recycling. ClearSpace aims to support institutions and commercial operators alike to enhance sustainable space operations and promote a circular space economy. In 2020, the company was awarded a service contract by the European Space Agency to develop ClearSpace-1, the world’s first mission to remove a piece of debris from orbit. The ClearSpace-1 mission is also supported by Elite Partner Omega. ClearSpace is growing rapidly and is actively engaged in the initial phases of two additional in-orbit servicing missions.

About Orbit Fab

Orbit Fab is the leading provider of on-orbit refueling services and propellants that make extended in-space missions and the space economy possible, where the biggest advantage is new opportunities for dynamic space operations. Over the past decade, rockets have become reusable. Orbit Fab has made satellites reusable. The company, based in Lafayette, Colorado, with offices in the UK, has developed the Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface (RAFTI) fueling port, which is being integrated aboard a growing number of government and commercial spacecraft to enable extended missions in GEO and LEO orbits. Orbit Fab has signed the first government and commercial fuel delivery agreements in GEO. Following its highly successful $28.5 million Series A funding round, Orbit Fab is currently expanding technical and manufacturing capabilities to ramp up production to meet intensifying demand for its on-orbit refueling ports, shuttles, and depots, which can deliver and dispense chemical, electric, and green propellants in space. Investors include 8090 Industries, Stride Capital, Industrious Ventures, Lockheed Martin Ventures, Northrop Grumman, Tribe Capital, Good Growth Capital, Massive Capital Partners, Techstars Ventures, and Bolt.

Source: ClearSpace

Kris Christiaens's Avatar

Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.