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Emily LakdawallaNovember 11, 2009

Hayabusa stumbles on the path back to Earth

JAXA issued a press release (in Japanese) on November 9 stating that one of Hayabusa's ion thrusters, thruster D, had stopped operating. Hayabusa launched with four ion thrusters, but D was one of only two that are still functioning. So the failure of thruster D is a serious problem.

I asked Japanese blogger "5thstar" to summarize for me what's being said on Japanese-language blogs and websites about this. He sent me this summary of the situation, based in part on the release and also in part on blog entries from space journalist Shin-ya Matsuura and Hayabusa team member Junya Terazono:

Every time Hayabusa has stumbled, the creativity of JAXA's engineers has revived hopes for its mission. Will they be able to pull off another save? Let's hope so.

Hayabusa (MUSES-C)

JAXA / ISAS / Hitoshi Kuninaka

Hayabusa (MUSES-C)

Read more: Hayabusa (MUSES-C), mission status, explaining technology

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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