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Aerospace & Defense

Japan's Astroscale launches space debris-removal satellite

Startup's demonstration is first-ever commercial orbital cleanup mission

The Rocket with the Astroscale's satellite aboard launched successfully from Kazakhstan on March 22 after two days' delay. (Courtesy of GK Launch Services)

TOKYO -- Japanese startup Astroscale launched a satellite on Monday designed to usher in an era of sustainable space flight by locating and retrieving used satellites and other space junk. The six-month demonstration project is the first of its kind by a commercial satellite operator.

The Astroscale debris removal spacecraft, called the End-of-Life Services by Astroscale Demonstration, or Elsa-D, was launched on a Russian-built Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket is operated by GK Launch Services, a Russian company known for its reliability and low cost. The Elsa-D will be operated from a command center in the U.K. 

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