Ibadan, 9 February 2024. – Astroscale Japan Inc., a subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings Inc., will launch its commercial debris inspection demonstration satellite, Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J), on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand, on Sunday, February 18 UTC. Furthermore, the Company has shipped ADRAS-J from its headquarters in Tokyo, and final preparations for launch are underway at Rocket Lab’s facilities, in addition to operational control testing from the Mission Control Center in Tokyo.
ADRAS-J will be the world’s first attempt to safely approach and characterize an existing piece of large debris through Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO). As a result, the mission aims to lay the groundwork for one of the world’s first active debris removal (ADR) missions and for in-space inspection and situational awareness capabilities. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) selected ADRAS-J for Phase I of its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration program.
ADRAS-J will rendezvous with an unprepared Japanese H2A upper-stage rocket body (approximately 11 meters long, 4 meters in diameter, and weighing approximately 3 tons), demonstrate proximity operations, and gather images to assess the rocket body’s movement and condition of the structure. Unprepared objects in orbit pose an additional challenge as they have not been prepared with any technologies that enable docking or potential servicing or removal. The mission will consequently demonstrate the most challenging RPO capabilities necessary for on-orbit services.
Speaking about the mission, “Eijiro Atarashi, ADRAS-J Project Manager, said, “This mission will not only demonstrate highly difficult and innovative RPO capabilities that will support future on-orbit services, including debris removal, but it also represents a significant step forward in creating a sustainable orbital environment for generations to come. I am so proud to see ADRAS-J ready for launch.”