NorthStar Earth & Space has secured a contract with LuxIMPULSE to develop commercial space situational awareness (SSA) products to help avoid collisions in space.
Among other things, the services will enable space players to map space traffic, receive warnings when in proximity to space debris and to receive a global view on the space hazard environment through risk assessment, critical for fleet management, mission planning, and insurance purposes.
The Canadian firm, which opened its European headquarters in Luxembourg in 2023, expects to launch satellites for its SSA services in October 2023.
“NorthStar is grateful and privileged to receive this important strategic support from LuxIMPULSE to accelerate the development of our next-generation solutions for Space Situational Awareness with a focus right here in Luxembourg,” said NorthStar founder and CEO Stewart Bain.
Why Space Situational Awareness?
There are thought to be 7.6 tonnes of space junk in low Earth orbit. Most pose limited risk to people on Earth because they are small enough that they will burn up on atmospheric re-entry. However, according to the European Commission, a fifth of annual orbital re-entries involve fragments big enough to drop to Earth. On-Earth safety aside, space debris poses a growing threat to satellite and space station infrastructure.
On its website, Northstar states: “Accurately tracking and predicting positions of objects is an immediate challenge, and essential to achieve safety in space flight.”
LuxIMPULSE is a space sector support programme managed by Luxembourg’s national space programme in conjunction with the European Space Agency focused on space research, development and innovation.
The support is aligned with the Luxembourg national space strategy focused on sustainability.
“Space sustainability is one of the pillars of our space strategy and NorthStar is a leader in this key domain. This partnership will create quality jobs in Luxembourg and is an excellent example of how Luxembourg is committed to promoting and investing in the sustainable commercialization of space activities,” Luxembourg Space Agency CEO Marc Serres said.