Astroscale to Advance On-Orbit Servicing Interface Technologies Supported by Latest Award from Japanese National Research and Development Agency 

Posted January 18th, 2022 Posted in News

Jan. 18, 2022 – Astroscale Japan Inc. (“Astroscale Japan”), a subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today announced it has been awarded funding from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (“NEDO”), a leading national research and development agency in Japan, to advance on-orbit servicing interface technologies. This award from NEDO bolsters Astroscale’s plans to build extensive heritage with a multitude of interfaces which enable satellite services such as debris removal, life extension, orbit transfers, refueling and repair services. As missions such as End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) continue to demonstrate more advanced on-orbit activities, spacecraft operators who embrace the benefits of on-orbit servicing will help pave the way for increasingly complex and sustainable developments in space. 

The NEDO-funded project’s overarching goal is to identify and mature key interface technologies that will contribute to the development of the on-orbit servicing market. The first phase will focus on the research and feasibility assessment of new and existing interface technologies. 

The project falls under NEDO’s Small Business Innovation Research Program, which aims to strengthen Japan’s industrial competitiveness by supporting the research and development and commercialization of small and medium-sized enterprises and start-up companies. 

“Satellite servicing will form the basis of the space infrastructure that will enable the future space economy to sustainably thrive,” said Takayoshi Koyama, Managing Director of Astroscale Japan. “We are very pleased to be selected for this project by NEDO as common interfaces are a key driver to the success of the emerging on-orbit servicing sector. Astroscale is well positioned to solve this challenge as we continue to advance interface and docking capabilities, as part of the technological, regulatory and economic drivers of this growing market.” 

In July last year, Astroscale Japan was selected by the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry to research and develop extra-vehicular general-purpose robotic hand and arm technologies that will enable spacecraft to perform complex servicing activities in orbit and in lunar environments. The objectives of the three-year contract are to research and develop technologies related to robotic hands and arms, autonomous control, and exchangeable tooling.

The scope of these latest projects will accelerate standardization trends and the overall development of Astroscale’s suite of on-orbit servicing interfaces. The projects will build on Astroscale’s recently launched docking plate, a lightweight, low-cost fitment available with flexible size options to prepare satellites for future removal with both magnetic and robotic capture systems. They will also harness Astroscale’s robotic docking capabilities as featured on its LEXI, or Life Extension In orbit, servicer, which will extend the operational lives of satellites in geostationary orbit. As an unprecedented number of satellites are planning to launch over the next decade, Astroscale’s deepening experience with multiple interface technologies will play a key role in ensuring sustainable servicing activities become a reality.