Hayabusa Returns

Hayabusa (Falcon), the little engine that could in space, is on the way back from the asteroid belt.

Nov 3, 2005
Japan’s Hayabusa Closes in on Asteroid Landing Site – [space.com]

Stunning imagery is being returned by Japan’s Hayabusa space probe as it draws closer to its celestial target: asteroid Itokawa.

Now just a few miles distant from the space rock, the spacecraft is poised for an historic attempt to collect and return a specimen to Earth from such an object. Imagery from Hayabusa is being used by Japanese scientists to target potential touchdown sites on the rocky world.

Nov 20, 2005
‘Frankenstein’ fix lets asteroid mission cheat death – [newscientist.com

Now that Hayabusa in effect has two working ion engines again, it is back on track to return to Earth in June 2010, as had been planned before the 4 November glitch, JAXA says. If all goes well, it will drop its sample capsule in the Australian outback.

Nov 23, 2005
Asteroid probe ‘did touch down’ – [bbc.com.uk]

The Hayabusa space probe landed successfully on its asteroid target despite the initial announcement of a failure, Japan’s space agency says.

It apparently failed to drop equipment to collect material from the surface of asteroid Itokawa.

The Japanese spacecraft is on a mission to return surface samples to Earth.

Dec 14, 2005
Hayabusa Asteroid Probe Stuck In Space Until 2010, Possibly Forever – [spacedaily.com]

A Japanese spacecraft which failed on its landmark mission to collect asteroid samples suffered a new setback Wednesday with its return to Earth delayed by three years until 2010.

The Hayabusa spacecraft, which last month approached the asteroid 290 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth, has been out of control since Friday because of a gas burst caused by leaking fuel.

Falcon Bringing Home an Asteroid Sample – [spacetoday.org]

Falcon, the interplanetary probe from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will be bringing home it’s sample of dust from an asteroid three years later than planned.

The spacecraft was to have departed by December 10, 2005, from Asteroid Itokawa for a return to Earth in June 2007. Unfortunately, a problem with a control thruster threw the vehicle into an unexpected spin as it loitered near the asteroid. Its operators in Japan were unable to control the spacecraft.

The probe is hovering a few miles above the surface of the asteroid 186 million miles across the Solar System from Earth.

Unsure of how long it will take to stop the erratic spinning, JAXA delayed the start of the return flight to early 2007. That would bring Falcon home to Earth in June 2010.

Jan 11, 2010
Daring asteroid probe on course to reach Earth in June – [spaceflightnow.com]

Japan’s gritty Hayabusa probe isn’t the first mission to be called the little spacecraft that could, but the small robot is on the verge of concluding a remarkable journey through the cosmos.

Running three years late after a harrowing fuel leak and cascading system failures, Hayabusa is on the home stretch of a remarkable seven-year journey through the solar system.

23 March 2010
Bringing Back a Piece of Heaven
– [ieee.org]

Between 5 and 12 March, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) controllers turned off the ion drive to refine the craft’s navigation. The engine was then restarted for a final six-week burn to shift its Earth flyby path into a ”near miss” flyby. Early in May, the vehicle is supposed to ignite its hydrazine thruster to refine the course still further. No one knows whether the thruster, which had a major breakdown several years ago, will work at all.

The craft is supposed to aim itself at a corridor above the Indian Ocean and trend southeast into the Australian desert. It will briefly endure acceleration forces equal to 25 times the force of gravity; the heating loads will be much higher than the Apollo space capsules faced. If Hayabusa survives, it will pop a parachute, activate radio beacons, and land.

Asteroid Explorer “HAYABUSA” (MUSES-C) – [jaxa.jp]

Hayabusa Project – [jaxa.jp]

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