OTB’s Newest Investment – ClearSpace raises €26 million to cleanup space

OTB’s Newest Investment – ClearSpace raises €26 million to cleanup space

Series A round is led by OTB Ventures and Swisscom Ventures

Renens, Switzerland, January 19, 2023. ClearSpace, the Swiss-based leader of in-orbit servicing and active space debris removal, is delighted to announce that it has finalised a EUR 26.7 million series A financing round, to further accelerate the movement toward the sustainable use of space.

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

This new financing round was led by OTB Ventures backed by the European Investment Fund under InvestEU programme and Swisscom Ventures, with participation from the Luxembourg Future Fund, Lakestar, In-Q-Tel, Happiness Capital and 600 T Space Investments. As part of the financing, ClearSpace is establishing an operational presence in Luxembourg that will benefit from the strong space and satellite focus there.

The company recently announced a satellite life-extension collaboration with satcom operator Intelsat, building upon the technology being developed under the EUR 110 million space debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, secured from the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2020. ClearSpace-1, which is supported by Omega as Elite Partner, will be the first of numerous missions ClearSpace is planning for both low-earth and geostationary orbits.

The global space market is booming, driven by strategic and commercial interest from governments, technology innovations opening up new markets for the private sector, and reduced satellite launch costs.

Citigroup predicts that the space industry should reach USD 1 trillion in annual revenue by 2040.

Meanwhile, decades of unsustainable practices have congested the near-Earth orbital regime with a plethora of dead and defunct satellites and rockets. According to ESA, there are 32,480 debris items orbiting the Earth that are tracked by space surveillance networks and more than 130 million currently untrackable objects ranging in size from 1 mm to greater than 10 cm are included. This space junk not only pollutes our fragile near-Earth environment, but it also represents a critical risk to active satellites that can (and have been) destroyed in high-speed collisions with such debris.

ClearSpace was founded in 2018 with the sole aim of making space operations more sustainable. The company is developing technologies and services that are needed to extend the life of active satellites, for example when they run out of fuel, and to safely remove them from orbit when they have reached their end of life. Such services are critical for maximising the value from space-based assets, and for preventing the dangerous build-up of space debris objects.

ClearSpace Co-founders, CEO Luc Piguet and CTO Muriel Richard-Noca said “We began this company 4 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.”

Adam Niewiński, GP & Co-founder at OTB Ventures said “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 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.”

Dominique Megret of Swisscom Ventures said “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.”

The Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) Board said “The Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) is very happy to participate in this important financing round to support ClearSpace in its unprecedented mission of in-orbit servicing and space debris removal. Supporting companies like ClearSpace in their quest to ensure more sustainable space operations is of crucial importance in light of the growing space industry. We are excited to see ClearSpace develop operations here in Luxembourg and forge close bonds with both private & public players within Luxembourg’s vibrant and growing space sector. ClearSpace marks the final LFF co-investment and yet another innovative new space investment as part of the LFF portfolio and we welcome the company to Luxembourg with open arms.”

ClearSpace was advised on the financing round by Silverpeak LLP (financial) and Niederer Kraft Frey Ltd/Tavernier Tschanz (legal).

About ClearSpace

ClearSpace SA, is an In-Orbit Services (IOS) company, created in 2018, intending on revolutionizing how space missions are conducted.  ClearSpace is creating the technologies that will support a wide range of IOS applications, from disposal and in-orbit transport to mission extension, 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 ESA 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.  

ClearSpace is growing rapidly with teams in Switzerland, the UK and Germany, and is actively engaged in the initial phases of two other in-orbit servicing missions in addition to ClearSpace-1.