This assisted reentry was considered the "first-of-its-kind" because the satellite, named Aeolus, was not designed for a controlled reentry when launched by ESA in 2018. ESA successfully performed a series of maneuvers between 24 - 28 July 2023 to lower the satellite's orbit from an altitude of 320 km to 120 km, positioning Aeolus over a planned Atlantic ground track to prevent any remaining debris following its atmospheric reentry from causing harm. Without these actions, Aeolus would have experienced an uncontrolled reentry, increasing risk of space debris falling onto habited areas.
LeoLabs supported this mission as a tracking partner, receiving ephemeris data prior to and after each maneuver from ESA Mission Control. This data was used by LeoLabs to task its global radar network to track the satellite, helping ESA verify and monitor orbital changes after each de-orbit maneuver.
"ESA values the support provided by LeoLabs during the Aeolus re-entry, which contributed to a novel ending for the mission that successfully reduced space debris and enabled a safe re-entry," said Tommaso Parrinello, ESA Aeolus Mission Manager, "By testing space tracking capabilities for assisted and controlled re-entries, we're one step closer to achieving sustainable space."
This partnership served as a successful test of LeoLabs' object tracking capabilities in very low Earth orbit (VLEO), which includes altitudes below 400 km. LeoLabs was able to demonstrate its ability to reliably track objects in VLEO. This is difficult due to several factors, including higher aerodynamic drag and stronger gravitational pull on the object while on orbit. By illustrating these capabilities, LeoLabs builds confidence in the ability for satellite owner/operators to safely deorbit objects; the final, critical stage of future active-debris removal missions.
"LeoLabs is proud to support this groundbreaking effort by ESA," said Edward Lu, LeoLabs Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, "It represents a milestone towards making space safer and more sustainable, illustrating how responsible behavior by owner/operators can normalize space safety measures and contribute to growing expertise in active debris removal."
|Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters|
Embracing the future we need
Virgin Galactic rockets its first tourist passengers into space
Russian cosmonauts perform spacewalk to attach debris shields to space station
Advanced Space selected for two NASA SBIR Phase I Awards
Elon Musk arrives in Japan for first visit since 2014
China's Kuaizhou-1A rocket launches five new satellites
Pulsar Fusion forms partnership with University of Michigan for electric propulsion
China's commercial CERES-1 Y7 rocket launches 7 satellites
Enjoying the Climb: Sols 3916-3918
Cracks in ancient Martian mud surprise Curiosity team
Engineers put a Mars lander legs to the test
Phoenix's Red Planet Selfie
China to launch "Innovation X Scientific Flight" program, applications open worldwide
Scientists reveal blueprint of China's lunar water-ice probe mission
Shenzhou 15 crew share memorable moments from Tiangong Station mission
China's Space Station Opens Doors to Global Scientific Community
Intelsat completes C-Band spectrum clearing for 5G Deployment|
ESA's Space Environment Report 2023
SpaceX successfully launches another batch of Starlink satellites
US storms, natural disasters push up insurance costs: Swiss Re
ESA integrates Satellite Orbit Decay Forecast service to enhance satellite safety
Damage control: WVU researchers aim for the sky to track lethal space debris
LeoLabs provides tracking support for ESA's historic assisted satellite reentry
AFRL opens extreme computing facility, announces $44M in additional funding
Watch an exoplanet's 17-year journey around its star
Exoplanet surveyor Ariel passes major milestone
The oldest and fastest evolving moss in the world might not survive climate change
Chemical contamination on International Space Station is out of this world
NASA's Europa probe gets a hotline to Earth
All Eyes on the Ice Giants
Hundred-year storms? That's how long they last on Saturn.
Looking for Light with New Horizons
|Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters|