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Astroscale Successfully Launches Debris Inspection Spacecraft

Astroscale and Rocket Lab
Astroscale and Rocket Lab launch ADRAS-J. Credit: Astroscale

Ibadan, 19 February 2024. – Astroscale Japan Inc., a subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings Inc., has successfully launched its commercial debris inspection demonstration satellite, Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J), from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand, on Sunday, February 18. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) selected ADRAS-J for Phase I of its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration program.

The ADRAS-J mission is the world’s first attempt to safely approach, characterize and survey the state of an existing piece of large debris through RPO. ADRAS-J will subsequently rendezvous with a Japanese H2A upper-stage rocket body, demonstrate proximity operations, and gather images to assess the rocket body’s movement and condition of the structure.

The mission will demonstrate the most challenging RPO capabilities necessary for on-orbit services. Furthermore, it will complete various stages, including rendezvous, proximity approach, proximity operations and departure, over the next several months

Speaking on the launch, Eddie Kato, President and Managing Director of Astroscale Japan, said, “The launch of ADRAS-J is a new chapter in Astroscale’s history as the first mission we have contracted for a space agency to successfully reach orbit.” The Managing Director also added, “ADRAS-J is monumental for us as a company and for the entire sector as the mission will demonstrate the essential RPO capabilities for future on-orbit services. Thank you to all the Astroscale team, JAXA, our partners and supporters for their commitment and dedication to getting us to this point.”

In the coming days, the ADRAS-J team will continue in orbit tests and checkouts before commencing rendezvous operations. Furthermore, ADRAS-J will use ground-based observation data of the client’s approximate orbital position to initially approach the client from a safe distance based on this limited information.

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