Timeline for Akatsuki's second attempt at orbit insertion
This is it: Akatsuki's final chance at Venus orbit insertion. The rocket firing should begin on December 7 at 08:51 Japan time (December 6 23:51 UT / 15:51 PST) and last for 20 minutes. If for some reason the first rocket firing doesn't work, they'll turn the spacecraft about and try again with the opposite set of thrusters. We'll know right away if the rocket firing was successful, but it will take a couple of days of radio tracking to be sure that Akatsuki's modified path is one that will remain in a closed loop around Venus.
Sunday, December 6 (Japan time): Akatsuki turns to orbit insertion attitude.
Dec 7 04:30 JST / Dec 6 19:30 UT / Dec 6 11:30 PST: Usuda Deep Space Center begins tracking Akatsuki.
Dec 7 08:22 JST / Dec 6 23:22 UT / Dec 6 15:22 PST: Akatsuki enters Venus' penumbra.
Dec 7 08:51 JST / Dec 6 23:51 UT / Dec 6 15:51 PST: Akatsuki fires one set of RCS thrusters for about 20 minutes to enter Venus orbit.
After the firing, Akatsuki will automatically rotate to prepare for a second attempt at orbit insertion with its opposite set of RCS thrusters. Akatsuki will wait for instruction from Earth to find out if the second attempt is needed.
Dec 7 12:00 JST / Dec 7 03:00 UT / Dec 6 19:00 PST: JAXA will hold a press briefing from Sagamihara. At the press briefing, they will only be able to say whether or not the attitude control system functioned as commanded. It will take until December 9 to confirm that the spacecraft successfully entered Venus orbit. Another press briefing is scheduled for that day.
December 7, afternoon (Japan time): Canberra Deep Space Network begins tracking Akatsuki.
Here's the translated diagram -- you can see how small a change in trajectory the orbit insertion makes, at least initially:
JAXA / translated by Emily Lakdawalla
Akatsuki orbit insertion trajectory
Everybody cross your fingers for a successful arrival for Akatsuki at Venus!
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