COOBER PEDY News & Events


Hayabusa capsule (and parachute) recovery in the desert - Far north South Australia

UPDATE:    Capsule and Heat Shield search and recovery by Helicopter and re-entry photos by JAXA and NASA below.

The Hayabusa capsule reentered earth on Sunday, landing in the vast Woomera Protected area between Coober Pedy and Glendambo at approximately 11.20pm 13th June on schedule.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) searched for the capsule by a helicopter and discovered it at the expected landing  area in WPA, Australia at 11:56 p.m.

Ground Observation System of Hayabusa entering earth's rim. Photo: Jaxa

The retrieval of the Hayabusa capsule was completed at 16:08 Tuesday June 14th, 2010 (JST).

According to JAXA the capsule is deemed intact at the moment.

The Hayabusa spacecraft broke apart during the return releasing the sample return capsule which landed by parachute on schedule in the WPA in Far North South Australia.

A NASA DC-8 airplane observing Hayabusa’s re-entry over Australia captured the images below by video, while local Coober Pedy residents and a host of travellers were able to watch the comet-like capsule descend to earth as it came across the centre of town in clear view, providing a first hand spectacle of the historic Hayabusa capsule landing.

Sightseers who travelled from various parts of Australia for the occasion, weren’t disappointed.  Many gathered at the roadblock just south of Coober Pedy to watch the capsule’s final descent by parachute as it landed in the anticipated vicinity of the desert.

Hayabusa reentry in the night sky - destination Woomera. Photo: NASA SETI Institude University of North Dakata Spaceflight Now

The Haybusa mother craft breaks up, releasing the capsule. Photo: NASA SETI Institude University of North Dakata Spaceflight Now

Also reporting on Hayabusa capsule reentry:
Welcome Home, Hayabusa!
by J Kelly Beatty, Sky & Telescope

Yiannis Karavas and Kelly Beatty recorded the brief but dramatic passage of Hayabusa at ground level, from the opal mining town of Coober Pedy. “Our images and spectra will be useful in calculating the exact trajectory of the incoming spacecraft”……. read here

VIDEO:  NASA Team Captures Hayabusa Spacecraft Reentry (Excellent version)


Hayabusa Re-Entry Schematic. Image Credit: Tetsuya Yamada, JAXA


Outline of trajectory guidance plan

March 27:  Completed the second trajectory shifting by ion engines
April 6:  TCM-0 implemented the initial guidance to the outer rim of the Earth.
About 39 days prior to reentry: TCM-1 to guide to the outer rim of the Earth
About 15 days prior to reentry:  TCM-2 to guide to the outer rim of the Earth
About 7 days prior to reentry:  TCM-3 to guide to Australia (Earth’s outer rim to the expected land area)
About 3 days prior to reentry: TCM-4 to guide to Australia (more detailed guidance)
About a day prior to reentry: Increase capsule temperature
About 3 hours prior to reentry: Capsule separation
Reentry: around 11:00 p.m. (JST or 2:00 p.m. UTC)
One hour after reentry:  Capsule landing

*TCM: Trajectory Correction Maneuver-  using the ion engines.)

 10 June, 2010 – Personnel from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have  begun arriving in the Opal Mining Town of Coober Pedy in preparation for the landing of the Hayabusa Spacecraft capsule in the desert south of the town on Sunday 13 June.

The South Australian Department of Defence has issued a notice that SAPOL will be closing a section of the Stuart Highway between Glendambo and Coober Pedy on the night of Sunday the 13th of June between 10pm and midnight.

Japans Hayabusa spacecraft after seven years in space, will finally land its 40cm return capsule via parachute in the Woomera Protected Area in South Australia’s Far North. The Hayabusa capsule will have undertaken a high speed re-entry (~12 km/s) following its release from the “mother” spacecraft, and descend by parachute to a targeted landing area within the WPA.

Asteroid Explorer Hayabusa - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

A number of direction-finding stations will be deployed by the International Society of Aeromedical Services (ISAS) around the landing area to detect an onboard beacon during the parachute descent phase and determine the location of the small 40cm diameter capsule. Advance rehearsal activities to simulate the capsule landing and location are planned by ISAS.

Approval for the Hayabusa landing has been progressed by several Australian government agencies, including the Department of Defence and the Space Licensing and Safety Office.

The Hayabusa, a project of The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is a forerunner in bringing back a sample from the celestial body. asteroid Itokawa in the Solar System, where the Hayabusa arrived in 2005.  

The primary objective of the Hayabusa project is the world’s first implementation of microwave discharge ion engines, hence the Hayabusa spacecraft is primarily an engineering test.

Asteroid Explore “HAYABUSA” (MUSES-C) Completed TCM-3 operation, shift the target from Earth’s outer rim to WPA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have announced that TCM-3 operation (Trajectory Correction Maneuver) was successfully completed (1:44 p.m. June 5th, 2010 (JST)).
By this operation, Hayabusa is guided from Earth’s outer rim toward the Woomera Prohibited Area in Australia. 

Space potato: Smooth Sections on Asteroid Itokawa Credit & Copyright: ISAS, JAXA

The Hayabusa is a probe to verify the practicality of acquired technology developed to archive future full-scale “sample return missions” and is bringing back a sample from a celestial body (Asteroid Itokawa) in the Solar System, called “Sample Return.”

On Hayabusa’s return trajectory, the re-entry capsule which detached from the main spacecraft at a distance of about 300,000 to 400,000 km from the Earth, and the capsule will coast on a ballistic trajectory, re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The capsule will have experienced peak deceleration of about 25 G and heating rates approximately 30 times those experienced by the Apollo spacecraft.

Hayabusa Landing: The "HAYABUSA" landing on the asteroid "ITOKAWA" (Artist's concept) ©Akihiro Ikeshita

Makoto Yoshikawa of the Hayabus project at Jaxa, said “The major scientific achievement was an assessment of asteroid Itokawa’s interior structure. We found out that Itokawa’s density is less than that of rocks found on Earth. We studied the types of rocks on the asteroid’s surface with infrared and X-rays, and found out that there was a great difference between the density of the rocks and Itokawa’s estimated density, calculated from its actual mass and volume. This means that the density of Itokawa is very low, which indicates there are a lot of gaps inside the asteroid”.

“We also discovered that the surface of Itokawa is totally different from that of asteroids we have seen before. For example, the asteroid Eros has many craters on its surface, which is 38 km from one end to the other, but on Itokawa we saw very few craters, and, instead, many large rocks lying here and there. I think this is a great achievement, as we now have a much clearer picture of Itokawa. Hayabusa acquired very useful and precious information that will allow us to study the circumstances around the time of the birth of the planets”, said Makoto Yoshikawa.

In this artist's rendition, distributed by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA's Hayabusa probe hovers on an asteroid. The Hayabusa probe reached within just 20 kilometers (12 miles) of an asteroid on Monday, 12 September 2004

The Hayabusa spacecraft was launched on 9 May 2003 at 04:29:25 UTC on an M-V rocket from the Uchinoura Space Center (still called Kagoshima Space Center at that time). Following launch, the spacecraft’s name was changed from the original MUSES-C to Hayabusa, the Japanese word for falcon.

Hayabusa surveyed the asteroid surface from a distance of about 20 km, the “gate position”. Afterwards, the spacecraft moved closer to the surface (“home position”), and then approached the asteroid for a series of soft landings and collection of samples at the safest site. Autonomous optical navigation was employed extensively during this period because the long communication delay prohibits Earth-based real-time commanding.

At the second Hayabusa touchdown with its deployable collection horn, the spacecraft was programmed to fire tiny projectiles at the surface and then collect the resulting spray. Any samples that were collected are now held inside a separate re-entry capsule. However, it is currently uncertain whether the metal projectiles were fired during contact.