Prior to becoming the Director General of ISAS/JAXA, Dr. Hitoshi Kuninaka was the Hayabusa2 Project Manager. He completed a Ph.D. program in aerodynamics at the University of Tokyo’s School of Engineering in 1988. That same year he took up a new post at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, which is now part of JAXA. In 2005, Dr. Kuninaka became a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Tokyo’s School of Engineering. Dr. Kuninaka’s areas of expertise are electric propulsion and plasma engineering. He has been involved in the development of the ion engines for the Hayabusa asteroid explorers.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 is just 6 kilometers from asteroid Ryugu as it prepares to snatch samples of the space rock for return to Earth. ISAS/JAXA Director General and former Hayabusa Mission Project Manager Hitoshi Kuninaka joins us for a conversation about the spacecraft and what’s ahead.