Astroscale’s ADRAS-J Mission Starts Rendezvous Operations

Posted February 22nd, 2024 Posted in News

After an excellent start to on-orbit operations, Astroscale Japan has begun the rendezvous operations phase of its ADRAS-J mission today, February 22 at approximately 11:00 am UTC. In this phase, the operations team based in Japan and the UK will use ADRAS-J’s propulsion system to start maneuvering towards the client orbit. This initial rendezvous phase requires careful planning of several orbit raising maneuvers to ensure accurate, precise and safe approach to the client.

Rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) are fundamental for any future on-orbit servicing, ensuring the safe and secure approach of servicer spacecraft to client spacecraft and other objects such as space debris. ADRAS-J is the world’s first attempt to safely approach and characterize an existing piece of large debris through RPO. Specifically, ADRAS-J is designed to rendezvous with an unprepared Japanese H2A upper stage rocket body, measuring approximately 11 meters in length, 4 meters in diameter, and weighing approximately 3 tons.

Space debris is an example of an unprepared client, meaning a space object that has not been prepared with technologies that offer visual aids or enable docking for potential servicing or removal. Unprepared client objects present several challenges. For example, the client does not transmit any GPS data on its own, so its precise location is not provided. The condition of the structure of the client is also unknown. In addition, the attitude and altitude of the client cannot be controlled, and the client cannot be communicated with. Given these factors, the ADRAS-J mission will demonstrate the most challenging RPO capabilities necessary for on-orbit services. 

As we embark on this groundbreaking mission, Astroscale Japan is committed to sharing the latest with the world. Stay tuned for further updates as we pave the way for the growth of the on-orbit servicing sector and lay the foundation for a sustainable space environment. #ShowtheWayADRASJ