Astroscale has just launched its first commercial space junk a cleaning mission designed to locate and locate used satellites and other debris orbiting the Earth.
The service of terminating the life of the Japanese company with an astronomical demonstration (ELSA-d) was canceled from the Russian Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 22. It was among the 38 payloads that the Soyuz rocket took into space from the first all-commercial mission of rideshare for the Russian company GK Launch Services.
The ELSA-d mission will test a new technology developed by Astroscale, which consists of two satellites stacked together: 385 lb. (175 kg) “serviceman” and 37-lb. (17 kg) “client”. The service technician is designed to safely remove debris from orbit, while the client spacecraft will serve during the demonstration as a piece of debris for cleaning. Once the two satellites separate, they will report a space cat and mouse game over the next six months.
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“I am pleased to confirm that Astroscale’s mission team at the Harwell Orbit Service Center in the UK has successfully established contact with our ELSA-d spacecraft and determined that all initial system checks are satisfactory,” Seita Iizuka, ELSA- d project manager, he said in an Astroscale statement. “I congratulate our team and look forward to moving to the first phase of our technical demonstrations.”
Using a series of maneuvers, Astroscale will test the satellite’s ability to grab the debris and lower it toward Earth’s atmosphere, where both the service technician and the trash will burn. The service station is equipped with a magnetic connection plate, as well as GPS technology for estimating the exact position and movement of the target. This waste disposal demonstration project is the first of its kind by a commercial satellite operator, the statement said.
During the test mission, the company will test whether the service technician can capture the client satellite in three separate demonstrations.
In the first maneuver, the service technician will gently release the test waste, and then catch it quickly. Next, the service technician will try to catch the client as he makes his way through space at speeds of up to 18,000 miles per hour.
Finally, Astroscale it will simulate an actual mission, in which the service technician will have to search, locate and capture the client remotely. If successful, ELSA’s magnetic capture mechanism could be installed on future satellites launched into space, allowing future service technicians to safely remove these spacecraft when they are no longer in service.
“While at the forefront of proving our garbage disposal capabilities, ELSA-d will also encourage regulatory development and improve the business case for end-of-life and active waste disposal services, “said Nobu Okada, founder and CEO of Astroscale.” This successful launch brings us closer to realizing our vision of ensuring the safe and sustainable development of space for the benefit of future generations. “
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