Wednesday, April 21, 2010

JAXA's Hayabusa spacecraft to land at Woomera

The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA)'s Hayabusa spacecraft will be landing in the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia in June. In doing so, the Hayabusa spacecraft will be the first spacecraft to perform an Asteroid sample return mission.

Launched in May of 2003, the spacecraft met up with the Itokawa asteroid in 2005. Whilst its sample mission was not fully successful, it is highly likely that some asteroid material has entered into the sample chamber, and will be able to be analysed upon landing.

Australia will be playing a significant role in assisting JAXA in the spacecraft landing and recovery, particularly through the Woomera range support activities. I'd also be interested to find out which government departments are actually involved in the coordination - clearly Innovation and Defence, but who is doing what?

Both the Innovation Minister Kim Carr, and Defence Minister John Faulkner issued a joint ministerial media release on the Hayabusa landing which can be found here.

Another good step in the ever increasing pace of Australian Space activities.

Good luck to everyone involved in the landing!

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