Stories: Meet D-Orbit, the EIC-funded startup cleaning up space junk in orbit
Today, more than 6000 satellites are in space, but only 1300 are operational – the rest remains wandering uncontrolled, increasing the possibility of collisions or the risk of falling back on Earth. The Italian startup D-Orbit developed a ‘space taxi service’ to combat the threat of this trash and has stood out in the overcrowded space market. In October 2020, the EIC-funded company received the first EIB’s space investment and this week, D-Orbit announced a partnership with AAA Clyde Space for ESA-funded project. Discover their latest achievements in space and on earth in the EIC Community.
Since the beginning of the space age, many satellites have been launched to push the boundaries of the known and explore the universe. But these innovations also left marks in the atmosphere and today the problem of junk space has become huge. Some of the debris is untraceable and the potential danger is that satellites collide and explode, leading to thousands of smaller debris moving around aimlessly.
D-Orbit was born out of Luca Rossettini's interest in space and environmental sustainability. The CEO investigated a solution to reduce the number of objects in orbit and came up with a project that addresses the problem at the source. The Italian startup developed a decommissioning device that removes old satellites at the end of their mission or if a major failure occurs. D3 is installed on the satellite prior to launch and can later be remotely activated when the satellite has reached the end of its lifecycle, driving it out of its orbit in a safe and controlled way.
Winning the bid
The hard work and high potential of D-Orbit’s solutions caught up the attention of new investors and business partners and this year the Italian company collected multiple achievements. Last month, D-Orbit secured €15 million financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB), marking the first time that the EIB has funded a space firm. The funds will advance the expansion of the company, whose ultimate goal is redefining the standards of the orbital transportation industry.
"We are truly grateful to all our shareholders, those who have just joined our Company and those who have believed in us from the very beginning, like Indaco SGR, Comoventures, and Il Club degli Investitori", commented Luca Rossettini, founder and CEO of D-Orbit, in a press release published on the company’s website. "Their trust and support have enabled us to carry on with our roadmap through these extraordinary times reaching exceptional objectives".
This week, D-Orbit UK announced a participation in xSPANCION, a €19.7M three-year project led by AAC Clyde Space to develop an innovative satellite constellation service and manufacture 10 spacecraft. The initiative will be partially funded by the UK Space Agency through the European Space Agency (ESA), which will cover €9.9M.
"We are really happy to participate with AAC Clyde in this contract, which confirms D-Orbit’s role as a key partner to manufacturers in the fast-emerging New Space industry", said Simon Reid, D-Orbit UK COO. "This collaboration allows us to optimize InOrbit NOW launch and deployment service towards constellations, accounting in particular for the emerging UK regulatory environment."
In March 2020, the company had already secured a funding round of over $10 million led by the Italian Neva F.I.R.S.T., Intesa Sanpaolo's Corporate Venture Capital investment vehicle managed by Neva SGR, and some new and existing investors.
D-Orbit received a Phase 2 Grant from the European Innovation Council to develop the D3 project between 2015-1018.