The report “On-orbit Servicing Assembly and Manufacturing (OSAM)” provides a comprehensive analysis of the evolving landscape of OSAM, with a particular focus on Europe's role and contributions. Here's a summary of the key points from the report:
Background and Rationale
- Traditionally, space objects were designed to operate without human intervention throughout their lifecycle. When they reached end of life, they were often left as orbital debris or moved to graveyard orbits.
- Recent advancements and a growing commercial interest in autonomous and robotic OSAM have led to new developments and missions in this area, primarily driven by public contracts and demonstrations.
Objectives of the Study
- The report aims to provide an overview of the OSAM market, including recent changes, issues affecting its development, and policy recommendations for Europe's involvement in this field.
- It includes insights on private investments in European OSAM companies, reviews current policy, legal, and capability developments, and explores academic research on OSAM.
- OSAM is part of the “in-space economy,” encompassing activities and use of resources in space for the benefit of users in outer space.
- On-Orbit Servicing (OOS), On-Orbit Manufacturing (OOM), and On-Orbit Assembly (OOA) are identified as key components of OSAM.
- The analysis assesses developments in the OSAM market, including business cases, current trends, market value, private investment, and influencing factors.
- The market for on-orbit servicing has not expanded as anticipated, remaining small and predominantly supported by public funds.
Growing Demand in Specific Areas
- There is growing demand for Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTVs) for last mile delivery, with European companies playing a significant role.
- Active Debris Removal (ADR) has gained interest, especially in Europe, with significant investments and contracts supporting this area.
Challenges in On-Orbit Refueling
- On-orbit refueling faces a dilemma due to satellites not being equipped with refueling interfaces, and the lack of developed refueling services.
- The U.S. is showing interest in developing refueling interfaces and concepts to address this challenge.
Private Investment in European OSAM Start-ups
- European on-orbit servicing start-ups have raised significant capital, indicating a growing interest in this sector.
- However, this investment data might be conservative as it only includes publicly revealed investments.
The report presents a thorough view of the OSAM sector, its current state, challenges, and the evolving role of Europe. It highlights the importance of continued research, development, and investment, particularly in emerging areas like OTVs and ADR, to fully realize the potential of on-orbit servicing, assembly, and manufacturing.