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Astroscale prepares its ELSA space junk tracker for launch

Luxembourg, 22 January 2021. – Astroscale’s ELSA-d spacecraft is ready for a launch on a Soyuz rocket in March from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Tokyo-based space start-up said.

The End-of-Life Service by Astroscale (ELSA) program is a spacecraft retrieval service for satellite operators. ELSA-d – d stands for demonstration – is the first mission to demonstrate the core technologies necessary for debris docking and removal, Astroscale says.

The ELSA-d mission is “the first to demonstrate the core technologies necessary for space debris docking and removal, a major step towards expanding on-orbit services and achieving Astroscale’s vision of safe and sustainable space for the benefit of future generations”, the company said.

ELSA-d consists of two spacecraft, a servicer weighing around 175 kilogram and a client with 17 kilogram; they will be launched stacked together. The servicer is equipped with proximity rendezvous technologies and a magnetic docking mechanism, Astroscale says, while the client has a ferromagnetic plate which enables the docking. The servicer will repeatedly release and dock with the client in a series of technical demonstrations proving the capability to find and dock with debris.

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