An international fleet of spacecraft will be launched in 2018 to explore the Moon, Mars, Mercury and the Sun. Two sample-return spacecraft will enter orbit around asteroids while a third spacecraft will be launched to search for asteroids that contain water that can be mined.
NASA will also launch its next exoplanet hunting spacecraft in March. And the space agency will ring in 2019 with the first ever flyby of a Kuiper Belt object.
And, oh yes, Elon Musk is launching his car in the direction of Mars. (more…)
NASA has selected asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to continue work on developing and testing of asteroid soil simulants.
The project is aimed at producing “at least four asteroid simulants at high fidelity for mineral content and particle size, created through standardized inputs and documented processes” for use by terrestrial researchers in a variety of programs.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” is cruising on its target orbit after measuring and calculating the post-Earth-swing-by orbit.
The Hayabusa2 performed the Earth swing-by on the night of December 3 (Thu.), 2015 (Japan Standard Time). The Hayabusa2 flew closest to the Earth at 7:08 p.m. (JST) and passed over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaii islands at an altitude of about 3,090 km. With the swing-by, the explorer’s orbit turned by about 80 degrees and its speed increased by about 1.6 km per second to about 31.9 km per second (against the sun) thus the orbit achieved the target numbers.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The asteroid 1999 JU3, a target of the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2,” was named “Ryugu”.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) conducted a naming proposal campaign between July 22 and August 31, 2015. The result of the careful study of proposed names by the selection panel of pundits is as follows.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started invite of naming proposals for the near Earth asteroid 1999 JU3, which is the target of Hayabusa2, the mission to return samples from the asteroid.
Fill out the application form below before the deadline, August 31, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. (Japan Standard Time).
No conditions are required. Applying multiple times is also possible.
Asteroid naming guidelines: Asteroids can’t be named just anything; the International Astronomical Union IAU) has rules. The following are conditions stipulated by IAU for naming an asteroid.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” completed its initial functional confirmation period on March 2, 2015, as all scheduled checkout and evaluation of acquired data were completed. The explorer has been under inspection for about three months after its launch on Dec. 3, 2014.
The Hayabusa2 is moving to the cruising phase while heading to the asteroid “1999 JU3” on March 3. It will be under preparatory operation for an Earth swing-by scheduled in Nov. or Dec., 2015.
We plan to increase the cruising speed of the explorer (60 m/sec.) by operating two ion engines twice (in total about 600 hours or 25 days) until the Earth swing-by. For the first operation, we will gradually increase the time duration of continuous ion-engine operation from March 3, and will operate the engines for about 400 hours within March. The second operation is scheduled in early June.
The Hayabusa2 is in good health.
We would like to express our profound appreciation to all pertinent parties who have supported and cooperated with our initial functional confirmation operation. Your further and continued support will be highly appreciated for this long-term space exploration mission of the Hayabusa2.
* For more information about the Hayabusa2, please refer to the following JAXA website “Hayabusa2 project page.”
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) President Naoki Okumura January Press Conference
Cabinet Approval of JFY 2015 Budget
The original Japan Fiscal Year 2015 budget was approved by the Cabinet on Jan. 14. JAXA’s total budget is 154.1 billion yen [$1.29 billion], about 400 million [3.35 million] less than that of JFY 2014 of 154.5 billion yen [$1.3 billion]. However, a supplementary budget of 29.9 billion yen [$250 million] was already set, thus the total will be 184 billion yen [$1.54 billion]. So, incorporating the supplementary budgets, the JFY 2015 JAXA budget is about a 2.5 billion yen [$21 million] increase from the 2014 budged of 181.5 billion yen [$1.52 billion].
It was a banner year for launches worldwide in 2014, with the total reaching a 20-year high as Russia and India debuted new launch vehicles, NASA tested its Orion crew spacecraft, China sent a capsule around the moon, and Japan launched a spacecraft to land on an asteroid.
There were a total of 92 orbital launches, the highest number since the 93 launches conducted in 1994. In addition, Russia and India conducted successful suborbital tests of new boosters.
In June 2010, asteroid explorer Hayabusa completed a seven-year journey of about 6 billion kilometers, returning to Earth with dust particles from an asteroid. Its successor, Hayabusa2, was launched on an H-IIA Launch Vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Center on December 3, 2014. Hayabusa2 will make its own journey to asteroid 1999 JU3, carrying our hopes into outer space. Just before launch, we asked Project Manager Hitoshi Kuninaka to talk about the mission.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and space agencies across the globe are opening up new possibilities for space exploration with missions to comets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies.
Following NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spacecraft observations of the close flyby of Mars by comet Siding Spring in October, and the successful November landing of ESA’s Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched its Hayabusa2 mission on Dec. 3 to rendezvous with an asteroid, land a small probe plus three mini rovers on its surface, and then return samples to Earth.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 26 (H-IIA F26) with the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” onboard at 1:22:04 p.m. on December 3, 2014 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center.
The launch vehicle flew as planned, and at approximately one hour, 47 minutes and 21 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the Hayabusa2 to earth-escape trajectory was confirmed.
JAXA received signals from the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” at 3:44 p.m. on December 3, 2014 (Japan Standard Time) at the NASA Goldstone Deep Space Communication Complex (in California) and confirmed that its initial sequence of operations including the solar array paddle deployment and sun acquisition control have been performed normally.
The explorer is now in a stable condition.
The Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” is a successor to the “Hayabusa”, which verified various new exploration technologies and returned to Earth in June 2010. The “Hayabusa2” is setting out on a journey to clarify the origin and evolution of the solar system as well as life matter. The “Hayabusa2” will find out more about the world.
JAXA will broadcast the launch of the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 26 with the Hayabusa2 onboard from the Tanegashima Space Center through the Internet. The report will cover launch events from the liftoff to the payload separation from the launch vehicle.