Astroscale has just launched its first commercial space debris a cleanup mission designed to locate and retrieve used satellites and other debris from Earth’s orbit.
The mission of the Japanese company End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) started from the Russian Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 22. It was one of 38 payloads that were delivered into space by a Soyuz rocket. belonging first commercial ride sharing mission for the Russian company GK Launch Services.
AT ELSA-d mission will test a new technology developed by Astroscale, which consists of two satellites installed together: the 385-pound one. (175 kg) “service personnel” and 37 lbs. (17 kg) “client”. The service device is designed to safely remove debris from orbit, while the customer spacecraft will serve as a piece of debris to be cleaned up during the demonstration. Once the two satellites separate, they will play a space game of cat and mouse for the next six months.
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“I am pleased to confirm that Task Force Astroscale at the In-Orbit Services Center in Harwell, UK, has successfully established contact with our spacecraft ELSA-d and determined that all initial system checks are satisfactory.” – Seita Iizuka, ELSA-d Project Manager, Astroscale said in a statement… “I congratulate our team and look forward to starting the first phase of our technical demonstrations.”
Using a series of maneuvers, Astroscale will test the satellite’s ability rip out the debris and lower it into the Earth’s atmosphere, where both the maintenance personnel and the debris will burn. The service department is equipped with a magnetic docking plate and GPS technology to assess the exact position and movement of the target. The debris removal demonstration project is the first of its kind to be a commercial satellite communications operator, according to the statement.
During a test mission, the company will test whether the service personnel can catch the client satellite in three separate demonstrations.
In their first maneuver, the maintenance personnel will carefully release the test debris and then quickly catch it. The attendants will then try to catch the customer flying through space at speeds up to 18,000 miles per hour.
Finally, Astroscale will simulate a real mission in which maintenance personnel will need to search, locate and capture a client from a distance. If successful, the ELSA-d magnetic capture mechanism could be installed on future satellites launched into space, allowing future maintenance organizations to safely remove these spaceships when they are no longer in use.
“As a leader in proving our debris disposal capabilities, ELSA-d will also contribute to the development of regulatory requirements and advance the business case for decommissioning and active garbage disposal services, Nobu Okada, founder and CEO of Astroscale, said in a statement. “This successful launch brings us closer to realizing our vision of safe and sustainable space exploration for the benefit of future generations.”
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