Asteroid probe, rocket get nod from Japanese panel
The board governing Japan’s space program last week formally approved a successor to the Hayabusa asteroid explorer and the Epsilon small satellite launch vehicle to continue development.
The government space panel, which has oversight of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, only gave the go-ahead for preliminary design work on Hayabusa 2, a mission projected to cost nearly $200 million.
The commission recommended proceeding with full development of the Epsilon rocket, a new Japanese launcher to send small satellites into orbit beginning in 2013.
The Hayabusa 2 mission would blast off as soon as 2014 and reach a carbon-rich asteroid in 2018 for a touch-and-go approach to collect samples. After spending a few months in the vicinity of the asteroid, the probe would return to Earth in 2020.
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