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Hayabusa completes journey to asteroid Itokawa by ion engine propulsion

Status Report From: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Posted: Tuesday, September 6, 2005

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The orbit maneuver of HAYABUSA spacecraft was handed over from the ion engines to the bi-propellant thrusters on August 28 JST.

After the solar conjunction the microwave discharge ion engines were turned on again at the end of July and accelerated with their full throttling so as to approach to the target. At the end of August HAYABUSA stays 4,800km (3,000 mi.) apart from Asteroid ITOKAWA and is still closing it at 32km/h (20 mph) velocity with the ion engines off.

HAYABUSA asteroid explorer, launched on May 9 2003, has executed the orbit maneuver using the microwave discharge ion engines, which established 25,800 hours the total numbers of space operational time to generate 1,400m/s delta-V with 22kg (49 lb) xenon propellant. One of four engines marked the accumulated operational time 10,400 hours.

The ion engines accomplished two-thirds of the orbit maneuver in the round-trip space mission. Hereafter HAYABUSA will brake down and keep the gate position 20km (12 mi.) above Asteroid ITOKAWA by the bi-propellant thrusters.

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