Astroscale’s ADRAS-J Demonstration Satellite Completes First Fly-Around Inspection of Space Debris

Astroscale’s ADRAS-J Demonstration Satellite Completes First Fly-Around Inspection of Space Debris

Astroscale Japan, a subsidiary of Astroscale Holdings, a market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, announced that its commercial debris inspection demonstration satellite, Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J), has successfully taken further images of a debris object in space and demonstrated the effectiveness of its collision avoidance system while conducting a fly-around observation of the debris — a rocket upper stage.

ADRAS-J is the world’s first attempt to safely approach, characterize and survey the state of an existing piece of large debris through Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO). This groundbreaking mission is rendezvousing with an unprepared Japanese upper stage rocket body that is approximately 11 meters long, 4 meters in diameter, and weighs approximately 3 tons. After demonstrating safe approach and proximity operations with the object that is the size of a city bus, ADRAS-J has been gathering images and other data to assess its movement and structural condition. Unprepared objects in orbit are not designed with any technologies that enable docking or potential servicing or removal, heightening the complexity of the operations.

The fly-around observation involved a complex, autonomous operation to maneuver ADRAS-J around the upper stage client for continuous image-taking, providing more insights into its characteristics and movement. These operations utilized relative navigation data from the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor, along with custom-developed software algorithms for alignment and control. ADRAS-J maintained a fixed distance of approximately 50 meters during the fly-around operations to capture images of the client, facilitating assessment for potential future removal. When ADRAS-J was approximately one-third through the fly-around observation (~120 degrees), an autonomous abort was triggered by the onboard collision avoidance system due to an unexpected attitude anomaly, and ADRAS-J safely maneuvered away from the client as designed.

Proximity operations and safe approaches to client objects are critical for on-orbit services, and Astroscale prioritizes safety during all of its mission operations. ADRAS-J in particular is designed to avoid collisions at every phase of this challenging RPO mission, featuring:

  • Fault-Detection, Isolation, and Recovery (FDIR) software that detects anomalies with the spacecraft or within the relative distance to the client and implements countermeasures. 
  • If the FDIR system detects an anomaly and the distance to the client is shorter than a certain threshold, an abort maneuver is performed to avoid collision. 
  • Multiple types of abort maneuvers are designed for the situation and trajectory, considering positional relationship and directions.

The abort maneuver implemented during the fly-around operation demonstrated that ADRAS-J can maintain safety even while performing close approach observations of non-cooperative objects. The autonomous abort maneuver performed as designed, validating extensive simulations that were conducted during the spacecraft’s development to verify safety and confirming the effectiveness of the collision avoidance system. There was no impact on ADRAS-J due to the abort, and the spacecraft remains in good health. The cause of the relative attitude control anomaly has been identified, and the team is currently preparing for another close approach to the client. 

Since the launch in February, the major ADRAS-J mission highlights include:

  • Feb. 18: launch and start of in-orbit operations.
  • Feb. 22: start of rendezvous phase.
  • Apr. 9: start of Angles Only Navigation and proximity approach from several hundred kilometers.
  • Apr. 16: start of Model Matching Navigation relative navigation techniques.
  • Apr. 17: approach to the client within several hundred meters.
  • May 23: approach to the client within 50 meters.
  • May 23: first fixed-point observation completed.
  • Jun. 17: second fixed-point observation completed.
  • Jun. 19: start of fly-around operation.

ADRAS-J heralds a new era in RPO missions, paving the way for future on-orbit services while laying the foundation for a sustainable space environment.

Click here to learn more about Astroscale's ADRAS-J Mission.

Publisher: SatNow
Tags:-  SatelliteLaunchGround

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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


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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


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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
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Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
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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