Lessons learned from round trip of Hayabusa asteroid explorer in deep space

Hitoshi Kuninaka, Jun'ichiro Kawaguchi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

33 Citations (Scopus)


The cathode-less electron cyclotron resonance ion engines, μ10, propelled the Hayabusa asteroid explorer, launched in May 2003, which is focused on demonstrating the technology necessary for a sample return from an asteroid, using electric propulsion, optical navigation, material sampling in a zero gravity field, and direct re-entry from a heliocentric orbit. It rendezvoused with the asteroid Itokawa after a two-year deep space flight using the ion engines. Though it succeeded in landing on the asteroid on November 2005, the spacecraft was seriously damaged. This delayed Earth return in 2010 from the original plan in 2007. Reconstruction on the operational scheme using thrust vector control of ion engines, Xe cold gas jets and solar pressure torque made Hayabusa leave for Earth in April 2007. Although most of the neutralizers were degraded and unable to be used in fall of 2009, a combination of an ion source and its neighboring neutralizer has kept the orbit maneuver to Earth including a series of final trajectory correction maneuvers. Finally, the spacecraft decayed in atmosphere and only the reentry capsule was retrieved from the Australian outback on June 14th, 2010. For the round trip space odyssey between Earth and the asteroid, the ion engines served the total accumulated operational time 39,637 hour·unit, the powered spaceflight in 25,590 hours, delta-V of 2.2 km/s, total impulse of 1 MN·s and 47 kg Xenon propellant consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2011 Aerospace Conference, AERO 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event2011 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2011 - Big Sky, MT, United States
Duration: 2011 Mar 52011 Mar 12

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Conference2011 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky, MT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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