Japan Successfully Launches Hayabusa 2 Asteroid Sample Return Mission
Japan successfully launched their Hayabusa-2 sample return mission to asteroid 1999 JU3, and JAXA reports the spacecraft is on course and in excellent shape, with its solar panels deployed. The H-IIA F26 rocket carrying the craft blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwest Japan at 1:22:04 p.m. local time on Dec 3, 2014 (04:22 UTC) , and about two hours later, the spacecraft separated from the rocket and entered its initial planned trajectory.
Hayabusa 2 has been communicating with JAXA mission control as it starts off on its journey to land on an asteroid in 2018 and retrieve rock and dust samples to be returned to Earth in late 2020.
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