33.4 C
New York
Monday, July 15, 2024

Astroscale needs to catch up to one before they can get a piece of space junk.

ScienceAstroscale needs to catch up to one before they can get a piece of space junk.

Astroscale, a well-capitalized Japanese startup, is preparing a small satellite to do something that has never been done in space. The Japanese H-IIA rocket that has been circling Earth for more than 15 years will be used to launch this new spaceship. Over the next few months, the satellite will try to move within arm's reach of the rocket, taking pictures and performing complicated maneuvers as it moves around the planet at nearly 5 miles per second. These maneuvers are not new for the International Space Station. The United States, Russia, and China have military satellites that can be used for rendezvous and proximity operations, but as far as we know, they only maneuvered around "cooperative" objects designed to receive them. The H-IIA rocket is not designed to accommodate visitors and was left in the air by Japan after the launch of a climate monitoring satellite. That was the case until a few years ago, when the JAXA collaborated with Astroscale in a public-private partnership to demonstrate capabilities the private sector could use to eventually remove large pieces of space debris. Satellite servicing or refueling missions could use the same robotic technologies. Astroscale Japan is putting debris removal by robotic technology as one of its main technology development areas because it is a common technology for any on-orbit servicing. In pursuit.

The mission is called ADRAS-J. Mike Lindsay, Astroscale's chief technology officer, posted on X. fully fueled that the first ever approach of actual space debris will be a monumental step toward a more sustainable future in space. The satellite was launched from New Zealand at 9:52 am on Sunday. ADRAS-J was launched from the Electron's kick stage and reached its highest point about an hour after liftoff. The H-IIA upper stage of ADRAS-J was launched from the New Zealand spaceport on Sunday. Once ground teams complete initial checkouts of the craft, the ADRAS-J will begin its pursuit of the spent H-IIA rocket.

As soon as next month, the ADRAS-J will be able to fly within about 100 meters of the abandoned upper stage. Tracking data from the ground will initially be used to find the H-IIA's location in space. Astroscale officials view the switch from relying on ground tracking data to onboard relative navigation sensors as a crucial moment for the ADRAS-J mission. The challenge for ADRAS-J is that the rocket is unpowered and cannot hold position. The upper stage doesn't have the laser targets that would aid an approaching spacecraft. If everything goes well, the spaceship could move closer to the rocket to further verify Astroscale's sensor suite and automated navigation and guidance. This will allow the company's engineers to gather data for a proposed follow-on mission to actually go up and grab onto the same H-IIA upper stage and remove it from the Earth's atmosphere. The next mission will be to capture the H-IIA launch vehicle. We want to demonstrate up to that point through this ADRAS-J mission. On the next mission, called ADRAS-J2, we will equip the robotic arm and capture the H-IIA launch vehicle.

Check out our other content

Check out other categories:

Most Popular Articles