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Race to sustainable space renewed despite Russo-Ukrainian war disruption

Robert Dougherty

UK space specialists have welcomed the new year with a wave of private sector support despite major disruptions to operations based in Ukraine.

The United Kingdom Space Agency has committed to three further projects with Edinburgh-headquartered space marketing agency AstroAgency to promote the removal of defunct satellites from orbit.

The partnership will promote the benefits of the clearing debris from the low-Earth orbit environment with active removal (CLEAR) mission, led by space start-up ClearSpace. The first mission, ClearSpace-1, is expected to launch and remove debris between 2025 and 2026.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine last year impacted AstroAgency staff working in the country, including chief operations officer Daria Filichkina who fled the region with family in April 2022.


AstroAgency senior project manager Antonio Duduianu, recipient of the Sir Arthur Clarke Award from the British Interplanetary Society, said the company has surpassed the milestone of supporting 50 space organisations within its first three years, despite the turmoil.

“This is a tremendous achievement following what was an emotionally challenging year for us and it sets us up well for our fourth year of operations and international expansion targets,” he said.

“The onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine had both direct and indirect consequences but didn’t prevent us from producing some of our most impactful work, including writing the world’s first space sustainability roadmap, together with our partners Optimat.”

AstroAgency has received a contract extension with market intelligence consultancy Euroconsult, confirmation of a collaboration with space data discovery firm Earthwave in the United States, and was announced as the marketing arm for industry-led body, Space Scotland.


Spire Global has also confirmed to continue as an AstroAgency partner for another year following two successful pilot projects in 2022.

“We’re delighted to have extended our contract with AstroAgency,” said Euroconsult chief executive officer Pacôme Révillon.

“We look forward to continuing our successful partnership and delivering a wider scope of work together to promote Euroconsult’s business lines throughout the year ahead.”

Sustainable space has been a hot topic in the United Kingdom with Scotland setting out a plan to grow its industry to create 20,000 jobs and secure £4 billion of the global space market by 2030.

Australian observers have raised fears about being “late” to the sustainable space party since the establishment of the Australian Space Agency in 2018.

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