Astroscale UK has been working in partnership with RUAG Space to develop the “brains” to command Astroscale’s space debris removing ELSA-M Servicer spacecraft, all based on RUAG Space constellation’s On Board Computer (OBC),
The removal of space debris is a growing concern for the space industry. Astroscale is pioneering the End-of-Life Services by Astroscale (ELSA), a spacecraft decommissioning service for satellite operators that is progressing into a new commercialization phase this year with ELSA-M.
ELSA-M will remove multiple satellites — M stands for multi-client servicer. Astroscale’s ELSA-M servicer is specifically designed for the servicing of constellation satellites, such as those launched by the global satellite communications network OneWeb. For these kinds of innovative missions, a high performing OBC is needed. The computer from RUAG Space will include a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver and interface unit, all in a single box. Once on-orbit, the computer controls the ELSA-M spacecraft, enabling repeated, multi-debris removal maneuvers and management of equipment, reaction wheels and magnetometers linked to it. The cOBC is designed to be a highly flexible, Off-The-Shelf computer with high integration, short lead times and enabling high volume manufacturing.
The computer system developed in partnership with RUAG Space – with the software from Astroscale and the hardware from RUAG Space – will support the rendezvous between Astroscale’s servicer spacecraft and the client spacecraft, a retired or defunct satellite.
“The ELSA-M servicer will be optimized to remove multiple retired satellites from LEO in a single mission,” said John Auburn, Managing Director of Astroscale UK and Group Chief Commercial Officer. “The rendezvous operations are critical, requiring precision robotics technology and on-board systems to maneuver our Servicer and successfully capture our Client spacecraft. The cOBC system from RUAG Space offers a highly competent solution, allowing the Astroscale team to concentrate many different functions in one place, which greatly simplifies our systems architecture. We also benefit from RUAG Space’s knowledge of the New Space and constellation market.”
“We have developed this new computer specifically for the growing ‘New Space’ market,” said Anders Linder, Senior Vice President Electronics at RUAG Space. “Astroscale’s trust in us shows that we have a highly competitive product that meets the demands of this emerging debris removal market. Our cost-effective computer with its high-quality performance is attractive for many other applications in the New Space area.”