JAXA Funds Tech to Capture Orbital Debris Using a Tether

TOKYO — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is conducting in-orbit demonstration of key components and new elemental technologies using microsatellite as part of the development of innovative basic satellite-related technologies shown in the Basic Space Plan.

We are promoting the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program” with the aim of implementing the above in a timely and inexpensive manner.

We are pleased to inform you that we have selected one additional demonstration theme below.

ClassificationRecruitment IssuesTheme NameProposing Organization
(Representative)
Main Reasons for Selection
MicrosatelliteDemonstration of technology and concept to create new space utilization market in Japan and overseas by new space utilization business conceptDebris capture technology demonstration using space tether technologyShizuoka University
(Kimihiro Nomi)
The business of utilizing debris as a recycling resource is novel. 
We can expect continuous human resource development in collaboration with space ventures.

In the future, we will proceed with preparations such as concluding necessary arrangements, technical adjustments, and safety examinations for the launch.

U.S. Government Releases Orbital Debris R&D Plan

This GIF is part of a longer animation showing different types of space debris objects and different debris sizes in orbit around Earth. For debris objects bigger than 10 cm the data comes from the US Space Surveillance Catalogue. The information about debris objects smaller than 10 cm is based on a statistical model from ESA. (Credit: ESA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In its waning days, the Trump Administration released the National Orbital Debris Research and Development Plan, which is designed to guide federal R&D efforts aimed at limiting, tracking, characterizing and remediating debris in Earth orbit.

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European Union Consolidating Space Programs Under Expanded & Renamed GNSS Agency

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The European Union (EU) is consolidating its space programs under an existing agency that is being given an expanded mandate.

The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA), which will be renamed the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUASP), will take on managing the use of the Copernicus Earth observation satellite system and oversee new initiatives in satellite communications named GOVSATCOM and space situational awareness (SSA).

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ISRO Opens Space Situational Awareness Center

BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — In view of ever-growing population of space objects and the recent trend towards mega-constellations, Space Situational Awareness (SSA) has become an integral and indispensable part of safe and sustainable space operations.

For the last few decades, ISRO has been carrying out SSA activities, mainly focused on safeguarding India’s space assets. Recognising the need for dedicated efforts to tackle the emerging challenges of operating in an exceedingly crowded and contested space domain, Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management (DSSAM) has been established at ISRO.

The Directorate engages in evolving improved operational mechanisms to protect Indian space assets through effective coordination amongst ISRO/DOS Centres, other space agencies and international bodies, and establishment of necessary supporting infrastructures, such as additional observation facilities for space object monitoring, and a control centre for centralized SSA activities.

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Congress Approves Boost for Office of Space Commerce, Funding for Weather Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Congress approved a budget boost for the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) as it gears up to oversee civilian space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA).

Congress provided OSC with $10 million and approved its plan with the merge with the Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 approved on Monday. The amount is $5.9 million above the total the two offices received fiscal year 2020.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had wanted to elevate OSC into a bureau that would report directly to him. However, Congress elected to keep the office within the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS).

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Space BD & ALE Sign Letter of Intent for Orbital Debris Prevention Utilizing ElectroDynamic Tethers

Space debris prevention component utilizing EDT. (Credit: Space BD)
  • Letter of intent signed in anticipation of sales agency agreement
  • The first step towards the social implementation of a device developed with the aim to create a sustainable space environment

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc., the leading space startup in Japan that provides access to space using the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and rideshares on Japan’s flagship launch vehicle “H3”, and ALE, with the mission to make space closer for people announced that they concluded a Letter of Intent (LOI) on 26th August 2020 towards a global Sales Agency Agreement for the space debris prevention component utilizing ElectroDynamic Tether (EDT).

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NASA Releases Best Practices Handbook to Help Improve Space Safety

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has released the first iteration of its Spacecraft Conjunction Assessment and Collision Avoidance Best Practices Handbook to share information on best practices for coordinating in-orbit activity in a safe and responsible manner. The agency aims for these best practices to bolster stability, reduce current and future operational risks, and contribute to a sustainable space environment for future public and private sector activities.

Emerging commercial ventures, such as satellite servicing, in-space manufacturing, and tourism, as well as new technologies enabling small satellites and large constellations of satellites, present serious challenges for safely and responsibly using space in a stable, sustainable manner. These challenges affect not only the United States, but also its allies and industry partners.

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Millennium Space Systems Tests Space Debris Remediation Technology

The Terminator Tape Deorbit Module interacts with the space environment to rapidly drag a satellite out of orbit. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Dec. 7, 2020 – Two Millennium Space Systems-built small satellites were successfully launched into low-Earth orbit last month – and the company’s engineers, as well as the world’s amateur satellite tracking community, now are watching them as they race back to Earth.

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Hyperspace Challenge Announces 2020 Cohort Winners

Winning Pitches by Resilient Solutions 21, Starfish Space, and Space Domain Awareness Address Three Key Ways to Improve Autonomous Space Operations

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Dec. 3, 2020 (Central New Mexico Community College PR) — Hyperspace Challenge, a business accelerator run by the Air Force Research Laboratory and CNM Ingenuity for the U.S. Space Force, announced today the first, second and third place winners of its 2020 cohort, which focused on identifying and developing safe and secure autonomous technology for the space domain.

The 2020 cohort’s first place winner was Resilient Solutions 21 (RS21), a data science analytics company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. RS21 is leveraging machine learning and precision oncology techniques to predict satellite systems failures and provide operators with advance warning.

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ESA Purchases World-first Debris Removal Mission From Start-up

ClearSpace-1 mission (Credit: ClearSpace)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA has signed an €86 million [$104 million] contract with an industrial team led by Swiss start-up ClearSpace SA to purchase a unique service: the first removal of an item of space debris from orbit.

As a result, in 2025, ClearSpace will launch the first active debris removal mission, ClearSpace-1, which will rendezvous, capture and take down for reentry the upper part of a Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter) used with Europe’s Vega launcher. This object was left in a ‘gradual disposal’ orbit (approximately altitude 801 km by 664 km), complying with space debris mitigation regulations, following the second flight of Vega in 2013. 

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UK to Play Critical Role in Building ‘the Claw’ – the First Satellite to Remove Space Junk

ClearSpace-1 mission (Credit: ClearSpace)

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Vital technology for the first ever mission to remove a piece of debris from space is going to be built in the UK, the Science Minister has announced.

Planned for 2025, Clearspace-1 is the first ever space mission dedicated to removing an existing object in orbit, and is a significant first step towards a cleaner space environment. The Clearspace-1 satellite – dubbed ‘The Claw’ – will use a pincer motion to collect debris, before giving it a controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere – allowing it to decompose safely and away from life.

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Astroscale Announces March 2021 Launch Date for World’s First Commercial Active Debris Removal Demonstration Mission

End-of-Life Service by Astroscale demonstrator (ELSA-d) satellite. (Credit: Astroscale UK Ltd)

ELSA-d is the first mission to demonstrate the core technologies necessary for space debris docking and removal, a major step towards expanding on-orbit services and achieving Astroscale’s vision of safe and sustainable space for the benefit of future generations.

TOKYO, November 18, 2020 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in securing long-term orbital sustainability, today announced that its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission will launch on a Soyuz rocket operated by GK Launch Services from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in March 2021.

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NorthStar Building World’s First Satellite Constellation to Combat Imminent Threat of Space Collisions

Skylark satellites (Credit: NorthStar)

MONTREAL (NorthStar Earth & Space PR) — NorthStar Earth & Space (NorthStar), a Canadian company with a first-in-space mission to deliver safe and sustainable operations for the rapidly accelerating New Space Economy, has contracted Thales Alenia Space (TAS) to build the first three satellites of its debut “Skylark” constellation for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) services, with Seattle, WA’s LeoStella overseeing the final assembly.

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Rocket Lab to Launch Most Diverse Mission Yet

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)
  • The mission will deploy 30 satellites to unique orbits using the Electron launch vehicle’s Kick Stage space tug
  • The satellites will enable internet from space, test new methods of deorbiting space debris, and enable research into predicting earthquakes
  • The launch will also feature a 3D printed mass simulator for Valve’s Gabe Newell to raise funds for Starship Children’s Hospital

LONG BEACH, Calif., November 2, 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) – Leading space systems company, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission will feature a diverse range of payloads from the United States, France and New Zealand.

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Launchspace Technologies To Test Orbital Debris Collection & Spacecraft Shielding Experiment on ISS

Launchspace will utilize a slot on the new ISS-external Bartolomeo platform for the in-orbit demonstration of an Orbital Debris Collection and Spacecraft Shielding payload

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus PR) — Airbus and Launchspace Technologies Corporation (LTC) have signed a contract for a mission on the International Space Station (ISS): Airbus’ Bartolomeo platform will host the Launchspace Orbital Debris Collection and Spacecraft Shielding Demonstration Payload for a 12-month period starting in 2022.

The payload consists of orbital ‘Debris Impact Pads’, which house a series of sensors that record the impact, force and orbital location of debris on the ISS.

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