Astroscale Selects Rocket Lab to Launch Phase I of JAXA’s Debris Removal Demonstration Project

Posted September 21st, 2021 Posted in News ,

Sep. 22, 2021 – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today announced Astroscale Japan Inc. (“Astroscale Japan”) has signed an agreement with Rocket Lab USA, Inc., (“Rocket Lab”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, to launch its Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J) spacecraft. Astroscale Japan’s ADRAS-J spacecraft was selected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) for Phase I of its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration Project (CRD2), one of the world’s first technology demonstrations of removing large-scale debris from orbit.

Scheduled for lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand in 2023, ADRAS-J will launch aboard an Electron rocket. Once deployed to a precise orbit by Electron’s Kick Stage, the ADRAS-J satellite is designed to rendezvous with a Japanese upper stage rocket body, demonstrate proximity operations, and obtain images, delivering observational data to better understand the debris environment. The second phase of CRD2, which has yet to be competed, will demonstrate the de-orbit of the debris.

“Reliable and commercially viable launch vehicles like Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket enable frequent and flexible access to space, allowing us to advance our on-orbit services, which are fundamental to the growth of the space infrastructure and economy,” said Nobu Okada, Founder & CEO of Astroscale. “Rocket Lab and Astroscale have become leaders in our respective markets, and I am thrilled to collaborate on ADRAS-J, a groundbreaking mission that will shape the technologies and policies needed to drive space sustainability forward.”

“The ability to actively remove satellites and debris from orbit at the end of their operational life will likely play a key role in ensuring a sustainable space environment for the future, so we’re delighted to enable Astroscale to demonstrate innovative new solutions in this field,” said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Rendezvousing with a piece of debris on orbit, travelling at around 27,000 km per hour, is a highly complex task that requires absolute precision when it comes to orbital deployment. Electron’s Kick Stage has demonstrated this precision across 18 missions, providing in-space transportation to get our customers’ satellites exactly where they need to go, every time.”

ADRAS-J is currently in the critical design review phase, and assembly of the spacecraft is scheduled to begin in early 2022.  

See how ADRAS-J’s concept of operations works. 

Download ADRAS-J images.