Hayabusa lights up the outback sky on return (JAXA)
Right on schedule, at 11:51pm on June 13, the Hayabusa spacecraft put on a spectacular skyshow on its return to the Woomera Prohibited Area in the South Australian outback.
The spacecraft separated from its capsule as planned, and as you can see in the video, the spacecraft broke apart and burnt up on re-entry, leaving the capsule to float gently down on its parachute for a soft landing. Furthermore, the capsule then broadcast its location back to the search team, allowing them to find it by helicopter reasonably quickly in the vast Woomera test range.
Hayabusa and parachute when first spotted (JAXA)
The capsule has been deemed “intact”, and will now be taken back to Japan to the eager scientists who will now open it to determine if any Asteroid dust or gas was captured.
Hayabusa up close when being recovered (JAXA)
The original video from the NASA tracking aircraft can be found here.