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Wind River VxWorks software chosen for Astroscale's Space Debris Solution ELSA-M
The mission is supported by the UK Space Agency through the Sunrise Programme, which is run as a Public-Private Partnership between ESA and OneWeb.
Wind River VxWorks software chosen for Astroscale's Space Debris Solution ELSA-M
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jul 20, 2023

Wind River, an industry leader in intelligent system software, has announced that its VxWorks software will be utilized in the command of the Astroscale ELSA-M Servicer spacecraft's On-Board Computer (OBC). This announcement reflects Wind River's ongoing commitment to supporting the unique challenges and complexities of space missions.

Astroscale, a company dedicated to developing innovative solutions for sustainable space systems, is tackling the growing issue of space debris. The company's ELSA-M (End-of-Life Service by Astroscale - Multiple) aims to safely and responsibly capture and decommission multiple satellites in a single mission, a crucial step in reducing the dangerous accumulation of space debris.

Wind River's Chief Product Officer, Avijit Sinha, noted that "Astroscale is addressing the hazardous matter of space debris, and we're proud to help them advance their mission to develop sustainable space programs." He further noted that Wind River's technology "demonstrates the continuing Wind River leadership in real-time software solutions for mission-critical systems."

Astroscale's ELSA-M service offers satellite operators a proactive solution for the disposal of their end-of-life satellites, especially amid increasing regulatory and public pressures to prioritize space sustainability. Stephen Wokes, the Director of Engineering at Astroscale Ltd, acknowledged that "the extremely complex rendezvous operations require the highest levels of precision, quality robotics, and onboard systems for successful maneuvering and capture." He emphasized the importance of utilizing proven technologies like Wind River's software as a solid foundation for such intricate tasks.

VxWorks, known for its deterministic high performance, will enable computer vision processing for the system that will command the ELSA-M mission. The software's reliability and precision are particularly crucial for the complex robotic operations needed for maneuvers during the rendezvous between the ELSA-M servicer and retired satellites.

An in-orbit demonstration (IOD) mission is set to launch in 2025 to capture an inactive satellite. This mission, part of Astroscale's partnerships with OneWeb and the European Space Agency (ESA), will be the first time a commercial active debris removal (ADR) satellite completes end-to-end operations of a removal service with a full-sized and fully representative client satellite.

Wind River has over three decades of experience in delivering proven software platforms for space missions, having supported a multitude of intelligent systems in space. This pedigree reinforces Wind River's capability to meet the demands of high-standard, mission-critical computing systems.

The ELSA-M, a follow-up mission from Astroscale's self-funded ELSA-d mission, is poised to demonstrate the commercial viability of in-orbit rendezvous and magnetic capture with existing in-orbit client satellites. The technology is being developed in-house at Astroscale's UK facility, Zeus, located in the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. Upon completion, the spacecraft will be operated from Astroscale's in-house Mission Control Centre.

The ELSA-M Servicer is designed to accommodate a range of future satellite operators, including constellations equipped with a compatible magnetic capture mechanism like the Astroscale Docking Plate. The mission receives support from the UK Space Agency via the Sunrise Programme, a Public-Private Partnership between ESA and OneWeb.

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