Astroscale Taps Rocket Lab to Launch Active Debris Removal Mission
Astroscale has chosen Rocket Lab to launch its first active debris removal mission. The company announced Sept. 21 that Rocket Lab will launch Astroscale’s Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J) satellite, which has been selected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for Phase I of its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration Project (CRD2). This mission is one of the world’s first technology demonstrations of removing large-scale debris from orbit.
The ADRAS-J satellite will be deployed to a precise orbit by Rocket Lab’s kick stage. ADRAS-J is designed to rendezvous with a piece of orbital debris, an abandoned upper stage rocket body. ADRAS-J aims to demonstrate proximity operations and obtain images of the rocket body, delivering observational data to better understand the debris environment. A planned second phase of the mission, which has yet to be competed, will demonstrate the debris de-orbiting.
The mission was first announced in February 2020 as a project to commercialize space debris removal.
“Rocket Lab and Astroscale have become leaders in our respective markets and I am thrilled to collaborate on ADRAS-J, a groundbreaking mission that will shape the technologies and policies needed to drive space sustainability forward,” said Nobu Okada, founder and CEO of Astroscale.