Paris, 2023 June 21th
Dark and CNES are preparing the future of space protection and security
The French Space Agency - CNES has awarded Dark, a French company, a contract to conduct the world’s first private emergency interception simulation. The purpose of this study will be to assess Dark’s Interceptor system, designed to reach any orbit in space within six hours and capture large debris such as rocket bodies.
Space debris and collisions are one of the most pressing challenges of the next decade, requiring the rapid development of mitigation and remediation strategies. As human activities in space grow at an increasing rate, the accumulation of space debris threatens currently operational satellites and future missions. Collisions are more and more likely to trigger cascading effects, leaving large swathes of space entirely unusable. To ensure safety and sustainability, space debris must be proactively removed. This will protect valuable assets and preserve the benefits of space exploration for communications, weather monitoring, navigation, and scientific research.
The framework developed by Dark, called Salazar, fully simulates the overall process and behavior of Interceptor for various scenarios and mission types. For this contract, the French Space Agency - CNES has selected a rocket body from a list of 50 objects that urgently need to be removed from orbit and defined a scenario that Dark will execute. A typical debris removal mission consists of complex operations such as responsive launch, rendezvous, capture, and reentry to Point NEMO: the key capabilities that will ensure the sustainability of space as a resource.
This contract furthers and deepens a long-standing collaboration between the French Space Agency - CNES and Dark, that started with the successful collaboration on a new regulatory framework for Interceptor’s operation, both airborne and on the ground. The system was specifically built to launch directly into space from mainland France and avoid the logistics and costs associated with overseas launch sites.
About Dark: Dark is a French company developing a highly responsive deorbiting capability to avoid collisions between heavy uncontrolled debris such as abandoned rocket stages and dead satellites. By building a platform addressing this nascent market Dark will also provide services to adjacent markets.
About Interceptor: Interceptor is a system designed for the primary purpose of emergency collision avoidance of large space debris with as little as six hours’ notice. Dark has designed the interceptor as a platform that can serve adjacent markets, such as orbital payload delivery and hypersonic experimentation. This allows them to dramatically reduce prices for these various services.
About Salazar: Salazar is a private exercise run by Dark that simulates the interception and capture of space debris based on the Interceptor design. The same exercise relates to the other services the company is targeting such as payload delivery.
About Point NEMO: International air and marine area reserved for reentry of space objects.
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