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Japanese Government Awards Astroscale Up to $80M for Debris Inspection Mission

By Rachel Jewett | October 2, 2023

A rendering of Astroscale’s ADRAS-J mission, which is similar to a new award from the Japanese government. Photo: Astroscale

The Japanese government awarded Astroscale Japan an award worth up to $80 million for a debris inspection mission. The award announced Monday is a small business innovation research (SBIR) award from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Astroscale will develop an on-orbit inspection demonstration mission to image and diagnose a large, defunct satellite in space. The project has three phases and the first phase is worth up to 2.69 billion yen ($18 million). Mission development will begin this month with a maximum term of up to March 2028.

This mission is similar to the upcoming ADRAS-J mission, which is funded by JAXA. In the first phase of ADRAS-J, an Astroscale spacecraft will approach an H-IIA rocket upper stage in space and inspect it.  The second phase in a later mission will demonstrate docking to the rocket body and removing it from orbit. 

Both missions will advance Astroscale’s rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) capabilities. 

The Japanese government established the SBIR program to promote research and development for Japanese startups and organizations to advance technologies and encourage their implementation.