Japan’s Astroscale Holdings has been selected as the commercial partner for Phase I of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) first debris removal project, a groundbreaking step by Japan to commercialize space debris removal, the company announced 12 February 2020.
The JAXA Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration project (CRD2) consists of two mission phases to achieve one of the world’s first debris removal missions of a large object, the first of which has been awarded to Astroscale. This first phase will be demonstrated by the end of the Japan Fiscal Year 2022 and will focus on data acquisition on an upper stage Japanese rocket body. Astroscale will be responsible for the manufacturing, launch, and operations of the satellite that will characterize the rocket body, acquiring and delivering movement observational data to better understand the debris environment. The CRD2 project will further cement Japan’s leadership in developing the technology and policies that will drive this growing market.
“This is a big step in moving toward a commercial service for debris removal and I am very honored that Astroscale has been selected for this collaborative mission with JAXA,” said Nobu Okada, founder and CEO of Astroscale. “Several countries, including Japan, are taking action by funding missions which support the development of debris removal technologies, and we at Astroscale are excited to help drive the market by providing the most cost-effective and efficient debris removal services.”
“The data obtained in Phase I of CRD2 is expected to reinforce the dangers of existing debris and the necessity to remove them. Debris removal is still a new market and our mission has always been to establish routine debris removal services in space in order to secure orbital sustainability for the benefit of future generations. The international community is growing more aware of the risks of space debris and we are committed more than ever to turning this potential market into a reality,” Okada continued.
Astroscale’s selection as commercial partner for CRD2 adds to a series of missions the company is involved in which are laying the groundwork toward the ultimate goal of a sustainable orbital environment. In the second half of 2020, Astroscale will launch its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission, the world’s first demonstration of commercial orbital debris removal. Astroscale will improve upon the heritage capabilities and proof of commercial viability being developed for its ELSA-d mission under CRD2 and other ongoing projects with government and industry. Most recently, Astroscale was awarded a grant of up to US $4.5 million from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s “Innovation Tokyo Project” to build a roadmap for commercializing debris removal services.