Post updated 3.45pm AEST
Confirmation was received from Japan’s Hayabusa asteroid sample return mission that the 3rd course correction had been completed yesterday. There is only one more course correction due before the spacecraft releases its sample return capsule which is due to land at the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia at 11.30pm next Sunday (13 June 2010).
Hayabusa was launched aboard the M-V Launch Vehicle on May 9,2003. It was accelerated by a swing-by of the Earth in May 2004 and reached its target Asteroid Itokawa on September 12,2005, after traveling about 2 billion kilometers. in September and October that year, “HAYABUSA” completed the most remote-sensing and measurement of the geometry of Itokawa and made two landings in November to collect a sample from Itakawa. Technical problems prevented the spacecraft from return to Earth until now. Text from JAXA’s Hayabusa website.
A local story about the Hayabusa capsule return can be found here on the Adelaide Advertiser website. And in a related story, the ABC News website is has just uploaded a story that part of the Stuart Highway between Cooper Pedy and Glendambo will be closed between 10 pm and Midnight the same night. I assume that this is to prevent someone being hit by the returning capsule. I wonder what the odds would be?