Aurora Propulsion set to test space junk removal technologies
The Finnish company, Aurora Propulsion Technologies, has announced that it will launch a satellite to test space junk removal technologies on Rocket Lab, a launch provider and space systems company.
The company, dedicated to the sustainable use of space, is to deploy the AuroraSat-1 to low Earth orbit in a demonstration of its proprietary propulsion devices and plasma brakes that have designed to provide efficient propulsion and deorbiting capabilities for small satellites.
Lifting-off from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula as part of a rideshare mission scheduled in Q4, 2021, the satellite wil be deployed using Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle.
The CubeSat will be used to validate the water-based propellant and mobility control of its Resistojets that can assist space craft with detumbling capabilities and propulsion-based attitude control. AuroraSat-1 will also test its deployable Plasma Brakes which use a micro-tether to interact with charged particles in space, ionospheric plasma, to generate significant amounts of drag to deorbit the spacecraft safely at the end of its life.
Aurora CEO Roope Takala said, “After earlier launch plans fell through, we greatly value Rocket Labs’ ability to offer a flight in flight window starting just three months from our originally planned launch date. The quick response Rocket Lab offered allows us to space prove our technologies sill this year and keep on track with our development plans.”
The recently-signed launch agreement provides Aurora with an accelerated on-ramp to space at a critical phase in the company’s growth and technology development. Originally manifested to launch on a different rocket and orbital transfer vehicle, this rapid and streamlined space access, combined with the ability of Electron’s Kick Stage to precisely deliver payloads to their unique orbits, were decisive factors in Aurora selecting Rocket Lab as the launch provider for their mission.
“Speed to space is crucial in the development of next generation technologies like Aurora’s, made possible by the dedicated team behind Electron that delivers rapid and responsive launch for satellite operators who want to move quickly,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “We’re delighted to be working with Aurora to enable new and innovative systems with the safe and sustainable use of space in mind.”