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Sohei Shiroshita

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Asteroid Explorer HAYABUSA (MUSES-C)

The Asteroid Explorer HAYABUSA (MUSES-C) that had been launched from the Uchinoura Space Center (Kimotsuki-gun, Kagoshima Prefecture) on May 9th, 2003 landed on the surface of the asteroid "Itokawa" for the first time in the world in November, 2005, and returned to the earth on June 13th, 2010. It was seven years after the launch. Though during the navigation the project had suffered severe troubles such as the stopping of the ion engine and the complete loss of communication, careful preparation and the desperate efforts of engineers in the project team overcame them. And the sample of Itokawa that HAYABUSA brought home is being analyzed now because it is possible that the clues about the birth of the solar system will be obtained.

While the satellites for scientific purposes are launched in Uchinoura, the applications satellites are launched in Tanegashima (Tanegashima Space Center). Tanegashima (Kumage-gun, Kagoshima Prefecture) is an island lying some distance off the coast of Uchinoura. (Assembly Building and Mobile Launchpad / Mobile Launchpad / Comparison of rockets' size / Control Center)


Reduced scale model of Asteroid Explorer HAYABUSA
(Space Science Museum, Uchinoura Space Center)


Full-scale M-V rocket for ground testing
(Uchinoura Space Center)


HAYABUSA was launched from here (Uchinoura) by the M-V type rocket.
(Uchinoura Space Center)

The procedure leading up to the launch of an M-V type rocket
(Space Science Museum)