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  • Voltaire Staff

Japanese pvt firm launches 'first ever' satellite to assess space debris

ADRAS-J. Image Courtesy: Astroscale

Astroscale Japan Inc, a subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings Inc, has launched its commercial debris inspection demonstration satellite, Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J).

The launch was conducted from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand on Sunday, Astroscale wrote on its website.

Astroscale is a Japanese private firm engaged in satellite servicing and promoting long-term orbital sustainability across various orbits.

Astroscale has been roped in by Japanese space agency JAXA for the Phase I of its Commercial Debris Removal program, launched in 2019 to remove large debris of Japanese origin in cooperation with private companies.

The ADRAS-J is designed to rendezvous with a Japanese upper stage rocket body, H2A, demonstrate proximity operations, and obtain images, delivering observational data to better understand the condition and degradation of debris left in orbit for a long period of time.

Astroscale Japan manages the entire process for the ADRAS-J spacecraft, from design to operation.

It is the world’s first mission to approach and survey large debris through Relative Proximity Operations (RPO).

Eijiro Atarashi, Project Manager of ADRAS-J said, "The Astroscale Japan Mission Operations team in Tokyo has successfully made contact with ADRAS-J and is ready to start operations."

Eddie Kato, President and Managing Director of Astroscale Japan remarked, "The launch of ADRAS-J is a new chapter in Astroscale’s history as the first mission we have contracted for a space agency to successfully reach orbit."

In the days ahead, the ADRAS-J team will continue conducting orbit tests and checkouts, gearing up for the commencement of rendezvous operations.

The task is however complicated by the H2A rocket body's lack of inherent GPS data, having been launched back in 2009. The absence of precise location information presents a challenge for the mission's proximity operation.

To navigate this hurdle, ADRAS-J will initially rely on ground-based observations of the client's approximate orbital position, allowing it to approach cautiously from a safe distance.



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