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JAXA Selects Astroscale Japan for Phase II of Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration Program

By Abbey Weltman | April 25, 2024

Astroscale’s ADRAS-J successfully approaches space debris

JAXA selected Astroscale Japan, a subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings, as the commercial partner for Phase II of JAXA’s Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration (CRD2) program. Astroscale Japan announced the partnership on April 25. 

Eddie Kato, president and managing director of Astroscale Japan, said Astroscale has demonstrated several capabilities during Phase I of the mission and is ready to advance to Phase II, the removal and deorbiting of large debris. Kato said, “This next phase holds significance in addressing the space debris issue and laying the foundation for a sustainable environment for future generations.”

The CRD2 program aims to remove an unprepared Japanese upper-stage rocket body and continue to address the issue of space debris. Unprepared objects in orbit are not equipped with technologies that enable docking or removal.

In Phase I, Astroscale Japan was responsible for the design, manufacture, test, launch and operations of ADRAS-J. The spacecraft is designed to rendezvous, execute proximity operations, and gather images to assess the rocket body’s movement and condition of the structure. The ADRAS-J mission was launched in February by Rocket Lab. ADRAS-J recently completed a successful safe and controlled approach to an unprepared space debris object. 

The ADRAS-J successor ADRAS-J2, will similarly attempt to safely approach the same rocket body through rendezvous and proximity operations, obtain further images, and then remove and deorbit the rocket body using in-house robotic arm technologies.