This sort of announcement seems particularly following this week’s news of a Russian anti-satellite demonstration creating thousands of new space debris objects in low earth orbit:
ASCEND Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nov. 17, 2021 – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA). The MOU establishes a new partnership in which the two companies will seek opportunities to cooperate on a series of space initiatives that will drive the future of space sustainability and on-orbit servicing ecosystem. Astroscale is planning dozens of missions over the next decade and is in discussions with Virgin Orbit to launch as many as 10 of those on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne. The two companies are also working toward a future joint mission concept focused on satellite servicing.
Astroscale and Virgin Orbit share a vision of creating a sustainable space environment and will explore areas of cooperation on policy and regulatory efforts in the fields of space sustainability, space debris removal, government partnerships, launch and on-orbit servicing spectrum allocation. The MOU also includes a partnership to study the business potential of a joint Global Responsive Satellite Servicing capability, pre-encapsulating Astroscale payloads and storing them at LauncherOne spaceports, as well as promoting U.S.-Japan and U.S.-UK bilateral cooperation with a responsive launch capability from Virgin Orbit’s launch sites in Oita, Japan, and Spaceport Cornwall, UK. The two companies are also discussing a future mission concept wherein Astroscale would utilize its robotic arms payload and/or docking plate on the LauncherOne system.
“The space industry is on the cusp of a new era, with flexible and responsive launch and satellite servicing an emerging reality,” said Nobu Okada, Founder & CEO of Astroscale. “This partnership with Virgin Orbit will bring value to these rapidly developing sectors, not just for technology development, but for business and regulatory innovations as well. Virgin Orbit is a like-minded company that is revolutionizing the way we launch and access space while maintaining a commitment to space sustainability.”
[Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said, ]
“We at Virgin Orbit are excited to partner with Astroscale to foster the development and promotion of the responsible, sustainable use of space,” […] “Our LauncherOne System already has key features that minimize the impact of space launch on Earth. We’re committed to finding ways to protect the space and Earth environments, and we’re highly motivated to drive forward technologies that will enable orbital debris clean-up.”
In addition to pursuing joint activities, Virgin Orbit recently joined The Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS), an international industry group representing the on-orbit servicing ecosystem. Astroscale is already an active member of CONFERS, which is advancing the on-orbit servicing industry by leveraging best practices from government and industry to research, develop, and publish technical and operational standards for OOS and Rendezvous and Proximity Operations.
About Astroscale: Astroscale is the first private company with a vision to secure the safe and sustainable development of space for the benefit of future generations, and the only company dedicated to on-orbit servicing across all orbits.
Founded in 2013, Astroscale is developing innovative and scalable solutions across the spectrum of on-orbit servicing, including life extension, in situ space situational awareness, end-of-life, and active debris removal, to create sustainable space systems and mitigate the growing and hazardous buildup of debris in space. Astroscale is also defining business cases and working with government and commercial stakeholders to develop norms, regulations, and incentives for the responsible use of space.
Headquartered in Japan, Astroscale has an international presence with subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, and Singapore. Astroscale is a rapidly expanding venture company, working to advance safe and sustainable growth in space and solve a growing environmental concern.
Find out more about Astroscale at www.astroscale.com.
About Virgin Orbit: Virgin Orbit builds and operates the most flexible and responsive satellite launcher ever invented: LauncherOne, a dedicated launch service for commercial and government-built small satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and are air-launched from our modified 747-400 carrier aircraft — allowing us to operate from locations all over the world in order to best serve each customer’s needs. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbit’s talented and growing team, visit virginorbit.com.
About NextGen: NextGen Acquisition Corp. II is a blank check company whose business purpose is to effect a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, share purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses. NextGen is led by George Mattson, a former Partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co., and Gregory Summe, former Chairman and CEO of Perkin Elmer and Vice Chairman of the Carlyle Group. NextGen is listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “NGCA.” For more information, please visit www.nextgenacq.com.
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