Steep start

Tomas Balog Avatar

Hello Space!

In this little story we would like to show you in more detail how our first year of existence passed through. The brief cut-through of our journey is in our first blog. However, there are much more interesting details as to what we had to go through and even though we were at our beginnings the journey was a very steep rise during our first year. It might be that the pandemics, home office working  conditions and lockdowns made us be more seated and focused but anyway we alone were surprised how much can be achieved in a short time.

It all started 26.12.2020 when Marek called Tomas about the possibility of creating something own, something new with the option to build our own business. It was a very simple decision, the white paper about recycling in orbit, which was the very first idea and is still our long term goal, was convincing enough. 

Even though we had no knowledge about the problem itself we studied it for a few days and realised that junk in orbit is uncommon to be taken care of and that the market itself does not even exist. And yes, technology for space activities? Who wouldn’t want to do that?

As mentioned the very beginnings were related to the recycling and trash collection at one point with generation of new parts which can be used for space exploration and do not have to be delivered from Earth using expensive rocket launches. The amount of junk existing in Earth’s orbits is enormous and we saw the business opportunity to be not only creators of the technology but also creators of the market itself. What a boost of enthusiasm that was!

Since we wanted to do things autonomously we needed a skilled developer with an automation and robotics background. That is where Michal was asked to join and luckily he was very open to that.

It was about that time when we found out about the SK PECS 06 grants from the European Space Agency (ESA) for companies in Slovakia to take part in the space industry prior to Slovakia becoming a member of ESA. We had about 1.5 months to write our proposal. But for that we needed insight about the idea and how the experts have seen it.

Thanks to open communication and willingness of people from ESA we’ve gotten in contact with people with background in Space debris and CleanSpace, debris surveillance and observation expert in Slovakia and even with ex-director of the Space Risk department and current director  of The International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS). Those discussions were another eye opener but got us into main focus – take little transformation and do not focus right on recycling in orbit but rather to take care of the actual increasing issue – rise of number of debris in Space leading to increased risk of collisions with active equipment. That part of the market is called – Active Debris Removal (ADR).

But what about the approach of how to do it? Again big thanks goes to discussions and brainstorming sessions with the above mentioned people. The robotics and autonomous approach was still very valid, however we wanted to give additional value like scalability, modularity and use the rise of machine learning and AI. From that the multi-agent principle was born. In other words – let’s make many smaller satellites which will have unified design and functionality and use it as ants transferring big pieces of food. All together as one will cooperatively work with transfer of the debris to safe orbit or to the atmosphere to burn.

Out of that the CMELIAK technology was created and the proposal could be written and submitted. Thanks to the proposal we have also established our advisory board made from experts we have made discussion with and added another related to robotics itself. What a great success!

Few weeks later another opportunity opened in the Slovak Business Agency opening a start-up incubator. With our refined idea for technology development focused on Active Debris Removal we were able to become part of it and get fulfilling mentoring from experts in investments, marketing and consultancies in jurisdictions related to Slovakian companies. 

And right after that – our proposal to ESA was accepted! We were not even half a year in our journey and we’ve already got into a well defined and structured incubator and got a contract with ESA. Our heads were in the clouds. Even though few negotiations were needed and the start of the contract was some months later the achievement was from our point of view enormous. 

But our hard work continued. There was a Horizon Europe proposal submission coming up in spring 2022. And we could not do that alone, we have needed partners (and of course we still do). The search began and we were amazed how well our refined idea was accepted by industrial players. Soon enough the consortium was created with companies from all over Europe (9 companies including us). 

We exist for about 1 year and here we are with partners, an advisory full of experts, two volunteers helping us in their free time, proposal accepted, being part of a great incubator, on route to submit Horizon Europe proposal and actually even to submit one more proposal to ESA in SK PECS 07. Yeah, the latest was just something happening on the side. 

The next year was also very fulfilling but can be described in brief. It was not slow and still many things happened, however the first year is something we would never expect to happen with such an amount of success and that it would raise us so high with respect to the company development.

Ok so next year was about these:

  • Submission of proposals to ESA and Horizon Europe
  • Acceptance of the second proposal to ESA with academic and industrial partners
  • Acceptance to Slovak Space Incubator
  • Winners of the Demo day of the Slovak Space Incubator
  • Acceptance into CIVITTA Challenger accelerator
  • Finalists of the Demo day in CIVITTA accelerator
  • Invited speakers to SlovakiaTech 2022, ITAPA expo 2022
  • Submission of another Horizon Europe with consortium (sadly first was not accepted)
  • Communication with investors (up to now without success)
  • Cooperation with bank Slovenska Sporitelna – but about that we will tell you in another story

Space scAvengers is currently raising investments for Pre-seed round