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Ask OCE — January 12, 2006 — Vol. 1, Issue 2


The return of Japan’s Hayabusa probe to Earth will take place three years later than planned, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The spacecraft, which was slated to return to Earth in June 2007, encountered difficulties that led JAXA to postpone its return until 2010. A thruster problem sent the probe into a spin, causing it to lose contact with JAXA during the timeframe for initiating its return procedure.

Hayabusaís mission called for traveling to the asteroid Itokawa and collecting asteroid dust samples, which were to be dropped in a capsule to the desert in the Australian outback. It apparently has landed on the asteroid twice, but it failed to fire a metal bullet designed to gather rock samples. The spacecraft is now hovering near Itokawa, approximately 180 million miles from Earth.


Read the official statement from JAXA.

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