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Related: Wow! Private space-junk probe snaps historic photo of discarded rocket in orbit

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In an update posted today (Friday, June 14), Astroscale wrote that ADRAS-J had completed a safe and controlled approach to the rocket, which spans 36 feet long by 13 feet wide (11 by 4 meters). The latest image is one of many ADRAS-J captured while holding a fixed position relative to the upper stage, the company said, adding that the mission will soon try snapping additional pictures of the target through various close approach operations.

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Spaceflight historian Gunther Krebs previously noted that ADRAS-J is not the first mission to capture close-up images of space junk. In 2003, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s XSS-10 satellite had photographed the used upper stage of a Delta II rocket; those tasks were less complex than ADRAS-J’s.

Following the successful safe and controlled approach of the dead rocket, in late April, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) chose Astroscale for the second phase of the mission, which will progress onto capturing and removing the rocket body using a robotic arm that is lighter version of the one on the International Space Station.

“This next phase holds significance in addressing the space debris issue and laying the foundation for a sustainable environment for future generations,” Eddie Kato, the president of Astroscale Japan, said in a previous statement.





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