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Astroscale Successfully Concludes ELSA-d De-Orbiting Mission

ELSA-D. Credit: Astroscale

Ibadan, 25 January 2024. – Astroscale Holdings Inc. has announced the completion of the final phase of its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale (ELSA-d) mission with the safe and controlled de-orbit operations of the ELSA-d servicer satellite. The satellite leveraged its remaining operational thrusters to achieve the controlled de-orbiting, marking the successful conclusion of the pioneering mission.

The servicer is orbiting at an altitude of approximately 500km and will re-enter and burn up in approximately 3.5 years — well within the commonly adopted 25-year guidelines. On the other hand, the client satellite, without the ability to maneuver, would naturally de-orbit within five years.

ELSA-d was a commercial mission to prove the core technologies necessary for on-orbit satellite servicing in low Earth orbit. Furthermore, the mission, which comprised two satellites — a servicer to safely remove debris from orbit and a client that serves as a piece of replica debris — launched as a stack from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in March 2021.

Despite the servicer losing the use of four out of its eight thrusters, the mission went on to complete further controlled close-approach rendezvous operations between its two spacecraft in orbit. As a result, the technologies proven in this demonstration included tracking an object from a great distance, rendezvous with an uncontrolled object, and handover from absolute navigation to relative navigation for a LEO servicing spacecraft.

Speaking on the mission’s success, Gene Fujii, Chief Engineer of Astroscale, said, “ELSA-d demonstrated multiple dynamically complex capture capabilities and rendezvous and proximity operations necessary for any future satellite servicing mission. Now we turn our attention to our next launch, where ADRAS-J will showcase our technologies to approach and characterize an existing piece of large debris in orbit.”

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