Japanese startup Astroscale has tested a space scavenger. ELSA-d has successfully captured space debris models. This concludes the first phase of the demo mission.
The ELSA-d (End-of-Life Services by Astroscale demonstration) system was launched into orbit on March 22. The cleaner himself weighs 175 kg. Together with him, a debris model was launched into Earth’s orbit – a 17-kilogram cube-shaped satellite with a magnetic docking plate. During the experiment, the operators of the ground center remotely opened the locking mechanism and caught the “garbage satellite” with the main module.
The two devices are held together by a system of special magnets, which are designed to collect debris. Then the “janitor” released the model debris over and over several times. During the demonstration, Astroscale engineers tested and calibrated the proximity sensors. They provide a safe approach and capture of flying objects.
Astroscale said more challenging tests will be carried out in the coming months. For all time, people have launched more than 11,000 satellites into orbit, and millions of debris of various sizes revolve around the Earth.