Japan’s NEC Corp. will launch the Hayabusa 2 satellite with developments that would surpass its predecessor, Hayabusa. It is a boost for JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, as some had feared for the mission in the current financial situation.
The word hayabusa means falcon in Japanese, and the original “bird” experienced several problems on its celestial journey in 2011, though it did succeed in its tough mission, to bring back asteroid samples. Engineers have said production of the second space craft is already underway.
The Hayabusa 2 is to be equipped with an “ion engine”, the same as with the Hayabusa, but with new capabilities that could detect potential engine trouble and measures to prevent engine failure. NEC will launch the craft in 2014, hoping to reach asteroid named (162173) 1999 JU3 in 2018. Quite a flight.
NEC is targeting US satellite makers and other companies for its ion engines, showing Japan’s aspirations to tap the space industry.