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Russia to help Japan launch space garbage collecting mission in 2020

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Japan’s ELSA-d satellite intended to demonstrate the project of capturing and removing space junk from orbit is expected to be launched aboard a Russian Soyuz-2 rocket from the Baikonur spaceport in early 2020, the Glavkosmos Launch Services operator said, reported TASS (Russia).

"The Tokyo-based company Astroscale Japan has concluded a contract with Glavkosmos Launch Services to launch its ELSA-d satellite aboard a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Currently, the takeoff has been scheduled for early 2020," the Russian operator said.

The ELSA-d, which stands for End of Life Services by Astroscale - demonstration, consists of two space vehicles - the Chaser (weighing 160 kg) and the Target (weighing 20 kg) launched in tandem. The Chaser is equipped with approaching technology and a magnetic grabbing mechanism, which allows it to get attached to the Target’s docking plate.

Astroscale is the first private company that offers space debris removal services to ensure long-term space flight safety for the benefit of future generations. The company was established in 2013 in Singapore. That being said, the company opened an R&D office in Japan in 2015, a branch in the United Kingdom in 2017 and a representative office in the United States.

Glavkosmos Launch Services, part of Russia’s Roscosmos, was established to offer commercial launch services and is the supplier of launch services authorized to conclude commercial contracts for launching spacecraft using Soyuz-2 carrier rockets from Russian spaceports.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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