Space cleaner photographs spent rocket stage

Astroscale has published an image taken by its satellite ADRAS-J. It shows the spent upper stage of the Japanese H-2A rocket.

Spent stage of the H2-A rocket. Source: Astroscale

The ADRAS-J satellite is a demonstrator built by Astroscale on behalf of JAXA. It was launched into orbit in February 2024. The main task of the 150-kilogram spacecraft is to demonstrate the possibility of removing large fragments of space debris from orbit.

The upper stage of the H-2A rocket, staying in orbit since 2009, was chosen as the object for the demonstration. Its length is 11 meters, its diameter is 4 meters. After the launch, ADRAS-J approached it at a distance of several hundred meters and took pictures. These are the first such detailed photos of space debris taken by a specialized cleaning device.

In the next stage of the flight, ADRAS-J will try to get even closer to the stage and get additional images of it. This data will be used to prepare the second stage of the program, during which a spacecraft will be sent to the stage, which will try to bring it out of orbit.

Earlier, we talked about how ESA had chosen a different, easier target for its space debris cleanup mission.

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