No communications with new Japanese X-ray telescope

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Bad news: Engineers have not been able to establish communications with Japan’s new X-ray telescope, Hitomi, since it was launched last month.

The JAXA announcement is very terse, and somewhat unclear, as its wording suggests that communications were not scheduled to begin until yesterday, even though the spacecraft was launched February 17. To me that does not sound right. Regardless, failure to establish communications at the beginning of a flight is usually a very bad thing, as it usually means something fundamental failed at launch and is thus difficult to fix or overcome.



  • D K Rögnvald Williams

    That’s a shame. Another example that there is nothing routine about space.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Your immediately previous post and this one, in combination, form a kind of ironic pair. Too bad the DARPA fixerbot vehicle isn’t available right now. I think JAXA would be very interested.

  • Local Fluff

    Japan has a very ambitious and broad space program, ranging from their own launchers, own GPS, great planetary and astrophysical missions and even talk about an own human spaceflight program. And they go for doing it alone without much international corporation, as a sharp contrast to ESA which seeks to specialize on components in international missions (which rarely happen because they are international with a multitude of political interests to feed). And JAXA has only about a tenth of NASA’s budget. But their success rate is not so good. They’ve missed orbital insertions at both Venus and Mars, Hayabusa got very small sample from its asteroid, and other satellites have failed too. But their launcher works fine, so there are different causes for the failures.

  • Local Fluff

    Reading about Nozomi, the failed JAXA mission to Mars launched 1998 is interesting. A Lunar flyby and two Earth flybys to get to Mars, that’s unusual. A valve failed, then a solar storm damaged the electric system so that fuel froze but could be thawed, could not be inserted in Mars’ orbit. Many things go wrong. Maybe they are trying to do it too cheap or are over ambitious? With a larger launcher, or lighter payload, they could’ve gone to Mars directly, like everyone else always has done, and the problems would not have occurred.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *