Someone mentioned on Twitter that Japan’s Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center looks like the lair of a Bond villain. And indeed it does: Check out the photo I found while searching for information about Hayabusa 2, JAXA’s second mission to retrieve asteroid material.
The photos shows Hayabusa 2 launching on top of a JAXA H-IIA rocket from what it looks like some kind of crater, a la Moonraker. On the other side of that ridge there’s a beach. I keep looking at this expecting Ursula Andrews to get out of the water.
Here’s the successful launch itself and more information about the mission:
The second Japanese mission directed to an asteroid, Hayabusa 2, launched on schedule at 04:22 UTC. The launch took place at Pad 1 of the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center of JAXA. The main engine of the JAXA H-IIA launcher burned for six and a half minutes. 60 seconds after the launch it was already travelling at Mach 1. After approximately seven minutes, at a speed of 5,200 meters per second and at an altitude of 211 kilometers, the second stage ignited, separating at 11 minutes and 30 seconds from launch.
After 26 minutes, Hayabusa reached a temporary orbit: A new ignition of four minutes is scheduled for 06:01 UTC that will push Hayabusa 2 away from Earth’s gravitational pull. The final separation is scheduled for 06:09 UTC. After that the probe will begin its final journey to asteroid 1999 JU3.
Hayabusa 2 is accompanied by a small rover made in Japan — MINERVA — and a lander — MASCOT, Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout — made by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Its job will be to explore the candidate site for collecting samples. MASCOT has four instruments: A Wide Angle camera, a radiometer, a magnetometer, and an infrared microscope provided by France’s CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales.)