The global company begins assembly of ELSA-d, a mission that will pave the way for improved orbital sustainability
October 10, 2019 – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing a service to remove space debris and secure long-term orbital sustainability, today announced it has entered the assembly, integration and test (AIT) phase of its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission, following completion of rigorous design reviews and subsystem testing.
“We are excited to be taking this next step in building our groundbreaking mission,” said Seita Iizuka, Project Manager. “ELSA-d is an incredibly complex satellite as we will be demonstrating rendezvous and proximity operations technologies that have never before been tested in space. This is not only a step toward orbital sustainability but is also an exciting challenge for our team of talented engineers.”
ELSA-d, the world’s first commercial orbital debris removal mission to operate in low Earth orbit (LEO), consists of two spacecraft, a Servicer (~180kg) and a Client (~20kg), and will demonstrate dynamically complex capture activities necessary to remove defunct objects from orbit. During the mission the Servicer will repeatedly release and capture the Client using a magnet in a series of demonstrations which will prove the technology necessary for debris removal, including search, identification, rendezvous, docking, and eventual de-orbit. While cooperative rendezvous has been performed in orbit in the past, ELSA-d will demonstrate the first semi-autonomous capture of a non-responsive, tumbling Client, as well as the first identification of a Client that is outside of the field of view of the relative navigation sensors on the Servicer.
The impending increase in the number of satellites in LEO means that the threat of a potential collision or break-up in orbit will escalate. This increased likelihood of increasing amounts of debris endangers current and future satellite missions and puts society’s reliance on data from space at risk. ELSA will be a critical service in safely removing defunct satellites from orbit and maintaining the viability of LEO.
“There has been growing global recognition of the need for a solution to the orbital debris problem over the last several years,” said Nobu Okada, Founder and CEO. “ELSA-d is an important step in proving the technology necessary to mitigate the threat from space debris, but it is only one aspect of what Astroscale is doing to solve this issue. In addition to developing groundbreaking technology, Astroscale is working on the policy and business case solutions necessary for a maintaining a sustainable orbital environment and facilitating humanity’s access to space data for generations to come.”
The AIT phase will be followed by environmental testing and conclude with launch. During the assembly phase, Astroscale will integrate subsystem equipment onto the satellite structure, including power, attitude control, propulsion, thermal control, communication and data handling, navigation sensors and the magnetic capture mechanism. The Client satellite will be mounted on the Servicer in early 2020.
ELSA-d is scheduled to launch in 2020 on a Soyuz from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
Astroscale Ships ELSA-d Spacecraft to Launch Site
Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in securing long-term orbital sustainability, has shipped its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale demonstration (ELSA-d) satellite to Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a March 2021 launch on a Soyuz rocket.
“Shipment is always a significant milestone on any satellite development program,” said Gene Fujii, Astroscale Chief Engineer. “We have officially moved from the manufacturing phase to the launch and operations preparation phase, and we are eager to see ELSA-d in orbit.”
ELSA-d is the first mission to demonstrate the core technologies necessary for space debris docking and removal, a major step towards expanding on-orbit services and achieving Astroscale’s vision of safe and sustainable space for the benefit of future generations.
“Our journey to this point has been long, challenging, and rewarding — now begins a trailblazing journey for ELSA-d itself,” said Nobu Okada, Astroscale Founder and CEO. “A new era of space sustainability starts with this shipment, and watching ELSA-d leave our Tokyo headquarters was a powerful moment.”
That moment has been captured in a short video and a few photos below:
Astroscale is the first private company with a vision to secure the safe and sustainable development of space for the benefit of future generations, and the only company solely dedicated to on-orbit servicing across all orbits.
Founded in 2013, Astroscale is developing innovative and scalable solutions across the spectrum of on-orbit servicing missions, including life extension, in-situ space situational awareness, end-of-life services, and active debris removal, to create sustainable space systems and mitigate the growing and hazardous buildup of debris in space. Astroscale is also defining business cases and working with government and commercial stakeholders to develop norms, regulations, and incentives for the responsible use of space.
Headquartered in Japan, Astroscale has an international presence with subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, and Singapore. Astroscale is a rapidly expanding venture company, working to advance safe and stable growth in space and solve a growing environmental concern.