Wind River to support ELSA-M, the world’s first orbital debris-clearing spacecraft

Press Release

Wind River®, a global leader in delivering software for mission-critical intelligent systems, today announced that VxWorks® is used in the On-Board Computer (OBC) to command the Astroscale ELSA-M Servicer spacecraft.

Astroscale develops innovative solutions to create sustainable space systems and mitigate the growing and hazardous buildup of debris in space. Astroscale’s End-of-Life service line (ELSA-M) provides a space debris solution to safely and responsibly capture and retire multiple satellites in one mission.

“Astroscale is addressing the hazardous matter of space debris, and we’re proud to help them advance their mission to develop sustainable space programs,” said Avijit Sinha, chief product officer, Wind River. “Our industry-leading technology demonstrates the continuing Wind River leadership in real-time software solutions for mission-critical systems. For decades, Wind River has successfully supported complex space missions and helped customers navigate the unique challenges of these programs.”

“Our ELSA-M service strives to solve satellite operators’ end-of-life disposal challenges. With increasing regulatory, industry, and public pressure to prioritize space sustainability, Astroscale’s ELSA-M service presents a proactive way for satellite operators to protect the orbital environment and the services that they offer,” said Stephen Wokes, director of engineering, Astroscale Ltd. “The extremely complex rendezvous operations require the highest levels of precision, quality robotics, and onboard systems for successful maneuvering and capture, making it imperative to work with proven technology such as that from Wind River as our software foundation.”

The OBC will support the rendezvous between Astroscale’s servicer spacecraft and the client satellite. Astroscale’s software applications on VxWorks are responsible for the computer vision processing for the computer system that will command ELSA-M. A high level of precision is needed for robotic operations, including maneuvers during rendezvous between the ELSA-M servicer and retired satellites.

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

VxWorks delivers unrivaled deterministic high performance and sets the standard for a scalable, future-proof, safe, secure, and reliable operating environment for running mission-critical computing systems that demand the highest standards. For more than three decades, Wind River has delivered the most proven software platform to bring dozens of intelligent systems to space, resulting in some of the most significant space missions in history.

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