Rocket Lab to launch orbital debris removal mission for Astroscale

Rocket Lab, an American small sat launcher, won a contract to launch a demonstration mission for Astroscale. The mission will demonstrate Astroscales active debris removal for phase one of JAXA’s Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration Project.

The 2023 mission will launch from LC-1, in New Zealand. After launch, the ADRAS-J(Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan) will rendezvous with an abandoned upper stage rocket to take images and gather observational data. A future phase of this project will demonstrate deorbiting of the debris.

“The ability to actively remove satellites and debris from orbit at the end of their operational life will likely play a key role in ensuring a sustainable space environment for the future, so we’re delighted to enable Astroscale to demonstrate new and innovative solutions in this field,” said Rocket Lab Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Peter Beck. “Rendezvousing with a piece of debris on orbit, traveling at around 27,000 km per hour, is a highly complex task that requires absolute precision when it comes to orbital deployment. Electron’s Kick Stage has demonstrated this precision across 18 missions, providing in-space transportation to place our customers’ satellites exactly where they need to go.”

Space junk is a growing problem, with even the likes of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak are trying to find a solution to it. While a major part of keeping space clean is ensuring that rockets and satellites currently launching will be able to deorbit at the end of their life, there is a lot of space junk without those capabilities.

“The ability to actively remove satellites and debris from orbit at the end of their operational life will likely play a key role in ensuring a sustainable space environment for the future, so we’re delighted to enable Astroscale to demonstrate new and innovative solutions in this field,” said Rocket Lab Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Peter Beck.

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