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Sep 24, 2021

Rocket Lab to launch Astroscale inspection satellite

Posted by in category: satellites

WASHINGTON — Rocket Lab will launch an Astroscale mission to rendezvous with a spent rocket stage in low Earth orbit, a prelude to eventually deorbiting the stage.

Rocket Lab announced Sept. 21 that it won a contract from Astroscale for the launch of its Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J) spacecraft. A Rocket Lab Electron will launch ADRAS-J from its Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand in 2023.

ADRAS-J will rendezvous with and inspect an upper stage left in orbit by a Japanese launch. The Japanese space agency JAXA awarded Tokyo-based Astroscale a contract in 2020 for the mission as part of its two-phase Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration project. The second phase, which will involve an attempt to deorbit the upper stage, has not yet been competed by JAXA.

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