Success at last for Akatsuki


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Five years after the Japanese Venus probe Akatsuki’s main engines failed while trying to put it into orbit, the spacecraft today fired its attitude thrusters and was successfully inserted into orbit.

This is a singular achievement by the Japanese engineers running the mission. They improvised a plan using the thrusters, which were designed to adjust the spacecraft orientation, not its course, and were able to get Akatsuki in an solar orbit that brought it back to Venus.

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