Rocket Lab Announces Launch Window for Astroscale Orbital Debris Inspection Mission

Rocket Lab Announces Launch Window for Astroscale Orbital Debris Inspection Mission

Rocket Lab USA, one of the global leaders in launch services and space systems, announced it has set the launch window for Astroscale’s orbital debris inspection demonstration mission. The ‘On Closer Inspection’ mission is scheduled to launch during a 14-day window that opens on February 19th NZDT. 

The mission will lift off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand and will deploy the Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J) satellite for Astroscale Japan. The mission is the first phase of an orbital debris removal program, and during this phase, ADRAS-J is designed to test technologies and operations for approaching and monitoring debris objects, also known as space junk, and delivering data that will assist in removing it, to ensure the sustainable use of space for future generations.

After launching on Electron, the 150-kilogram ADRAS-J satellite will approach an aged, derelict rocket stage in orbit to observe it closely, understand how it behaves, and determine potential methods for its assisted deorbiting in the future. The rocket stage it will be observing is the Japanese H-2A upper stage left in low Earth orbit after the launch of the GOSAT Earth observation satellite in 2009. ADRAS-J will fly around the stage, 11 meters long and four meters in diameter, inspecting it with cameras. After deployment from Electron, Astroscale’s full mission will take between three and six months to complete.

To enable the rendezvous with a non-cooperative space object requires a dedicated launch, highly responsive mission planning, and extremely tight margins on orbital parameters. Rocket Lab only received the final perigee, apogee, and inclination from Astroscale 20 days before launch. Only then could the argument of perigee targets for different days within the 14-day window be selected, essentially determining the timing of Electron Kick Stage burns to facilitate the unique elliptical orbit required depending on the launch date. The mission also demands highly accurate orbital insertion with tighter margins than required on most standard missions. In addition, the exact T-0 will only be defined the day prior to launch and the required LTAN accuracy only allows for +/- 15 seconds.

“Electron is really the only vehicle capable of delivering such a complex mission on an expedited timeline,” said Rocket Lab Founder and CEO Peter Beck. “With a dedicated launch on Electron, the Astroscale team have a high degree of control over launch time and deployment parameters, and the Kick Stage delivers critical maneuverability for precise orbital deployment. We’re immensely proud to be working with the Astroscale team in support of a pivotal mission that could have real, positive benefits for managing space sustainability for future generations.”

“We are proud to join forces with Rocket Lab to launch the world’s first attempt to safely approach a piece of large debris,” said Astroscale Founder & CEO, Nobu Okada. “ADRAS-J is a testament to our commitment to technological innovation and to fostering the growth of the on-orbit servicing sector. This mission holds immense significance, not just for the future of space sustainability, but for pioneering advancements in Rendezvous and Proximity Operations, which are essential technologies to deliver any on-orbit servicing such as debris removal.”

Click here to learn about Rocket Lab's Launch Services.

Publisher: SatNow
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GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013