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Rocket Lab Launches “Sustainable Space” Demonstration Satellite – Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California 2021-09-21 20:14:46 –

Rendering of active debris removal by Astroscale-Japan satellite. Image of courtesy.

The US Department of Defense tracks more than 27,000 “space debris” orbiting the globe. According to NASA.. And in 2023, Rocket Labs will launch a demonstration satellite aimed at removing its orbital debris, a Long Beach-based company announced on Tuesday.

Space debris can be not only natural meteoroids, but also man-made objects such as non-functional spacecraft, abandoned rocket stages, and other mission-related debris. According to NASA, the object is moving in low earth orbit at about 15,700 mph, so far more debris that is too small to track is also orbiting the planet. Also, even small debris can be devastating to space missions.

As the amount of space debris increases with each mission, Rocket Lab has signed a contract with Astroscale Japan Inc. to launch a satellite. This is called Active Debris Removal (ADRAS-J) by Astroscale-Japan.

“Reliable and commercially viable rockets, such as the Rocket Lab’s Electron Rocket, allow frequent and flexible access to space, advancing space infrastructure and in-orbit services that underpin economic growth. We can do that, “says founder and CEO Shin Okada. Astroscale said in the announcement.

Rendering showing the amount of space debris surrounding the earth. NASA images provided.

Once deployed in precise orbit by Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket, the demonstration ADRAS-J satellite intercepts the long-abandoned upper rocket body. Instead of removing debris from orbit, the satellite tests the system in the immediate vicinity of the rocket body and takes images of the debris to collect observational data about the debris environment.

The second planned mission of ADRAS-J shows the removal of debris. No contract has been awarded for that mission.

This mission is part of the first phase of a demonstration of commercial debris removal by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. According to the announcement, this program is one of the world’s first technology demonstrations for the large-scale removal of space debris.

“The ability to actively remove satellites and debris from orbit at the end of operational life can play an important role in ensuring a sustainable space environment for the future,” said Rocket Labs founder and CEO. Peter Beck said in his announcement.

“Rendezvous with debris in orbit and move around [15,700 mph] An hour is a very complex task and requires absolute accuracy when it comes to orbital deployment, “Beck added.

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