Space Threats Updates

January 19, 2023

  • Swiss startup ClearSpace said Jan. 19 it has raised about $29 million to support its first space debris removal mission in 2026.
  • Europe-focused early-stage investor OTB Ventures led the Series A financing round along with Swisscom Ventures, the investment arm of Switzerland-based telco Swisscom. The government-backed Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) also participated in the round, and ClearSpace said it is establishing an operational presence in Luxembourg as a result. ClearSpace has now raised about 130 million euros ($140 million) from commercial and government sources to develop its capabilities, according to co-founder and CEO Luc Piguet.

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December 13, 2022

  • The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a halt to one type of anti-satellite (ASAT) testing, a largely symbolic move intended to support broader space sustainability initiatives.

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December 9, 2022

  • Part of a Chinese rocket that launched the Yunhai 3 satellite last month is now a debris cloud of around 350 pieces. The Long March 6A rocket launched from Taiyuan, north China, on Nov. 11, successfully inserting the Yunhai 3 environmental monitoring satellite into its intended orbit. The upper stage of the rocket, however, apparently suffered a breakup event shortly thereafter. On Nov. 12, the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron (18 SDS) reported(opens in new tab) that it was tracking at least 50 discrete pieces of orbital debris from the rocket body. Ongoing tracking from 18 SDS, which focuses on space domain awareness, now states that the debris cloud has grown to 350 objects associated with the rocket stage.

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November 3, 2022

  • A key United Nations committee overwhelmingly approved a US resolution calling upon states to forgo testing of destructive, debris-creating anti-satellite missiles — with what a senior State Department official said was strong support from developing nations traditionally not allied politically with the West and often skeptical of US proposals.
  • The vote at the UN First Committee, which is responsible for peace and security, was 154 in favor, eight against and 10 abstentions.

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October 27, 2022

  • A Russian official speaking at a United Nations meeting on outer space security, criticized Western nations’ use of commercial satellites in military operations, adding fuel to previous declarations that Russia could target space networks operated by private companies. 
  • Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy director of the Russian foreign ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms, called the West’s use of commercial satellites “an extremely dangerous trend that … has become apparent during the latest developments in Ukraine.” He said that commercial systems as “quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a legitimate target for retaliation.”

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April 19, 2022

  • The United States has become the first country to announce a ban on missile tests against space satellites. US Vice-President Kamala Harris, who chairs the National Space Council, said such tests were reckless.
  • Speaking at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, Ms Harris said it was part of the Biden administration’s strategy to promote responsible use of space. She said stopping the direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile testing will safeguard satellites in low-Earth orbit – and she urged other nations to follow suit.

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