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RHEA and Astra to support Astroscale’s space debris clean up mission

An artist’s rendering of the ELSA-d. Credit: Astroscale.

Edinburgh, 24 October 2022. – On-orbit servicing provider Astroscale has contracted RHEATECH, part of engineering and solutions company RHEA Group, to provide the mission control system and operations automation for its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale Multiple Client (ELSA-M) servicer, the companies said. The partnership builds on the duo previous collaboration on the ELSA-d (ELSA-demonstrator) debris removal spacecraft. 

A part of RHEA’s ASTRAL ground segment tool suite, the mission control system and automation function will enable critical manoeuvres. The ASTRAL tools will also help Astroscale to maintain communications with the spacecraft through multiple ground stations.

The ELSA-M mission is scheduled for late 2024. During the mission, the servicer will approach a defunct spacecraft and dock with it using a magnetic plate. The spacecraft is then planned to deorbit the space junk to a lower orbit and release it. It will stay in this lower orbit until the atmospheric drag will cause it to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Orbital launch services company Astra Space has also reached an agreement with Astroscale to provide Astra Spacecraft Engines for ELSA-M, Astra said. The ELSA-M project is supported by the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency as part of the ESA Sunrise program. The new servicer will be capable of capturing and retiring multiple satellites in a single mission.

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