Hayabusa-2 fires main ion engines for return to Earth


After spending two weeks testing its main ion engines just beyond the gravitational sphere of influence of the asteroid Ryugu, Japanese engineers today initiated full engine operation, beginning the spacecraft’s journey back to Earth.

Hayabusa-2 is expected to return to Earth space in December 2020, where it will release a small capsule containing the two samples it obtained of Ryugu will be released to land on Earth and be recovered. At that point, if Hayabusa-2 is still in good condition it will be available to send to other locations in the solar system.

3 comments

  • Tom Billings

    A *very* good achievement for that team, and a good growth of multi-object explorations as a norm. I long for the next step, when a probe collects multiple samples from multiple objects swinging through the Solar System, to deliver them finally at an Earth-Moon Libration Point-1 station for analysis, as a group. Then, heading back out to the Belt, for even more.

  • wodun

    This craft has proved to be rather remarkable in its accomplishments.

  • Gealon

    Let’s hope it has an easier time getting home than the first Hayabusa.

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