Astroscale to launch space-junk-removing test mission in 2024

Fresh off an attempt last month at catching a simulated piece of debris in orbit, Astroscale says it's ready to launch a 'space junk servicer' test in late 2024.

The Tokyo-based company is partnering with broadband satellite provider OneWeb to launch the ELSA-M mission (End-of-Life Service by Astroscale-M).

"with ambitious plans to deliver a space debris removal service to satellite operators thereafter," the company said.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the U.K. Space Agency provided €14.8 million ($15.9 million) in financial support for the mission.

"This spacecraft will demonstrate our innovative rendezvous, capture and de-orbit capabilities with a full-size constellation client," John Auburn said.

"We plan to launch our commercial service for operators, such as OneWeb, soon after the in-orbit demonstration, with a vision to make debris removal part of routine operations," Auburn added.

The aim is to allow this servicer to capture and deorbit multiple satellites in low Earth orbit during its mission, once the satellites run out of fuel or in case of failure.

Astroscale launched a demonstration mission, dubbed ELSA-d, in March 2021.

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