Astroscale establishes ground station in Japan for LEO satellites

Image courtesy of Astroscale.

Astroscale, a space debris removal startup headquartered in Singapore, has announced the establishment of an S/X-band ground station in Yokohama, Japan, which will be operational in end-2018.

Located in Totsuka, this is Astroscale’s first ground station, and will serve satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The primary mission of the station will be to transmit data to and from Astroscale’s satellites, the first of which, ELSA-d, is scheduled for launch in late 2019.

In addition to supporting ELSA-d and other future Astroscale missions, the company will open the ground station for use by other LEO satellite operators.

The 3.7m ground station employs a hexapod antenna – a system for controlling the orientation with six jacks – which eliminates angle limitations and enables stable communications with LEO satellites travelling at speeds of approximately 28,000 kilometers per hour.

Table courtesy of Astroscale.

In addition to the new ground station, Astroscale recently opened a new office in the UK. The UK office in Harwell will function as the company’s Operations Centre, working with its R&D team in Tokyo and headquarters in Singapore.

Astroscale, which aims to monitor and remove space debris, has so far developed two demonstration satellites. Its first, the 25-kg IDEA OSG 1, aimed to monitor small orbital debris, but was unfortunately lost in the Soyuz launch failure in November last year. Its second small satellite, Elsa-d, is a spacecraft retrieval service that can de-orbit end-of-life satellites in LEO.

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