Astroscale Secures up $35 Million in Funding for Adras-1 Space Debris Removal

ADRAS-1 Credit: Astroscale

Credit: Astroscale

Last year, Singapore based Astroscale introduced its concept for the Mother-Boy space debris removal demonstrator. Last week, it secured an initial investment of up to $35 Million USD to test key technologies leading to a 2018 initial mission.

The concept:

“Mothership, a carrier satellite that can contain up to 6 catcher satellites, called Boy, will be launched as a primary payload. In its first demonstration, targeted to be in year 2018, one Mothership and one Boy will be launched as a piggyback payload. The Mothership is equipped with Attitude Determination Control System (ADCS) which includes Star trackers and GPS to get close to target debris, which is not giving off any signal, using Unmated Approach method. Once close to the target debris, a small but powerful Boy will be released to adhere to the debris with the silicon adhesive compound lined at the front disk.

The disk is mounted on gimbals with universal joint that has 20 degrees allowance to tune its heading for adhesion and thrusting axis. Packed with solid-fuel propellant, Boy is equipped with thrusters that can produce up to 100m/s DeltaV to deorbit a 50kg debris. These debris will eventually burn out during atmospheric re-entry. The technology of the Mothership and Boy will target critical debris heavier than 100kg in LEO and GEO to reduce the probability and risk of further collision in future.”

and the funding:

ASTROSCALE Secures up to USD 35 Million Capital Injection

SINGAPORE, 1 March 2016

Singapore-based satellite services company, ASTROSCALE, has secured up to USD 30 million in funding from venture capital investor, Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) as well as USD 5 million from recurring investors JAFCO Co. Ltd. and other third party investors.

The capital injection will be used to secure the development and testing of innovative space propulsion systems, a powerful adhesive-based spacecrafts’ docking system as well as key technologies used for space debris removal and spacecrafts’ End-of-Life Operations. These systems are essential to perform cutting-edge spacecrafts’ proximity operations, docking, deorbiting services and controlled atmospheric reentry. ASTROSCALE will carry out an in-orbit demonstration of active debris removal (ADR) in the 1st half of 2018, called ADRAS 1. Successful demonstration of these capabilities will allow the company to provide sustainable and scalable business solutions such as spacecrafts’ end-of-life services for global satellite operators in the near future.


Since 2009, the global satellite industry has seen a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.75% from USD 161 billion to USD 203 billion in 20141 . More satellites have been launched into space in 2015 than ever before. Such a sharp growth can be explained through the launching of costeffective small satellites, as well as the ambitious development of new Low Earth Orbit (LEO) megaconstellations, by companies who plan to launch satellites in the hundreds.

With this news, the population of space debris is expected to grow significantly, in the coming years, making the establishment of debris management solutions essential for the long-term use of the space environment. There are currently more than 23,000 trackable space debris orbiting Earth, a number that will increase due to the expected collisions of spacecrafts, accidental breakup events and other junks created from current missions operations.

ASTROSCALE introduces the business concept of spacecrafts’ End-of-Life services for all objects that will be or have already been launched into space. Such services will enable spacecrafts’ operators to consider space friendly systems for reliable satellites and rocket-upper stages passivation and deorbiting, before the actual launch.

ASTROSCALE hopes to establish itself as a leading provider of scalable space-to-space solutions allowing spacecrafts’ operators to use the space environment in a responsible way and by mitigating the risk of creation new debris. The company will be continue pursuing its long term objective to safely remove large space debris that are posing a threat to current satellite missions in congested low earth orbit.

End release:

Note: As the old saying goes, one person’s junk is someone else’s treasure. If we really are on the verge of opening up a cis-lunar economy, some of the “space junk,” particularly those items in higher orbits may offer a higher purpose (and value) in being recycled rather than being incinerated.

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