Switzerland’s ClearSpace raises €26M to clear debris from space: Here’s how

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Lausanne, Switzerland-based ClearSpace, an In-Orbit Services (IOS) company, announced on Thursday that it has secured €26M in a Series A round of funding led by OTB Ventures and Swisscom Ventures.

Luxembourg Future Fund, Lakestar, In-Q-Tel, Happiness Capital, and 600 T Space Investments also participated in the round.

The company will use the funds to accelerate the movement toward the sustainable use of space. As a part of the funding round, ClearSpace is establishing an operational presence in Luxembourg.

The Swiss company is ramping up operations ahead of the world’s first space debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, scheduled to launch in 2026.

The announcement comes a couple of months after collaborating with Satcom operator Intelsat to promote a more sustainable space economy by developing and using satellite life extension services. 

The programme is built on top of ClearSpace-1, secured from the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2020. 

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According to ESA, 32,480 debris items are orbiting the Earth, which are tracked by space surveillance networks. However, more than 130M untrackable objects range from 1 mm to greater than 10 cm are also present.

ClearSpace: What you need to know

Founded in 2018 by Luc Piguet and Muriel Richard-Noca, ClearSpace is developing technologies that support a wide range of In-Orbit Services (IOS) applications, from disposal and in-orbit transport to mission extension, assembly, manufacturing, repair, and recycling. 

The Swiss company aims to enhance sustainable space operations and promote a circular economy. 

ClearSpace Co-founders, CEO Luc Piguet and CTO Muriel Richard-Noca, say, “We began this company four years ago with the goal of making space operations sustainable and are delighted to be joined on our journey by our new partner investors. 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.”

In 2020, ClearSpace was awarded a service contract by ESA (European Space Agency) to develop ClearSpace-1 using state-of-the-art technology and advanced on-orbit techniques to demonstrate the feasibility of removing debris from orbit. 

The ClearSpace-1 mission is also supported by Omega as Elite Partner. 

Investors

OTB Ventures is a European venture capital fund focused on investing in early growth, post-product, DeepTech startups from the CEE market. 

OTB Ventures supports startup founders developing unique technologies in 4 key verticals – SpaceTech, AI & Automation, FinTech, and Cybersecurity. 

Adam Niewiński, GP & Co-founder at OTB Ventures, says, “Funding new science and technology developments is crucial to growing the space sector and catalysing further investment into the economy. Private investment in space companies, especially from venture capital, has steadily broken annual records over the past decade. With the backing from our limited partners, which include the European Investment Fund (EIF), we look to invest in leaders of the new space sector that will dominate the next phase of space operations. Tens of thousands of artificial objects are tracked in orbit around the Earth, with many times that are expected to be in orbit but are too small to be tracked. ClearSpace is developing key technologies for satellite proximity and rendezvous operations in space, which is essential for the sustainable future of space.”

Swisscom Ventures is the venture capital arm of Swisscom AG, a telecom and IT provider in Switzerland. With over $650M in assets under management and advisory, the VC invests during the full life cycle of high-potential startups.

Dominique Megret of Swisscom Ventures says, “Swisscom Ventures is delighted to back our Swiss-made champion ClearSpace in its mission to make space operations sustainable, ClearSpace is a deep tech landmark, and we look forward to working with the team going forward.”

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The editorial team of Silicon Canals brings you technology news from the European startup ecosystem. 

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