Tag Archives: Hayabusa space probe

Ken Watanabe stars in film about Hayabusa space probe

Some details have been released regarding Toei’s movie about the Hayabusa space probe, tentatively titled “Shouwakusei Tansaki Hayabusa: Harukanaru Kikan.” The big-budget film will star actor Watanabe Ken (51) as a character modeled after Kawaguchi Junichiro, the project manager behind the Hayabusa probe. In addition, Watanabe will be serving as project manager for the movie itself, working with director Takimoto Tomoyuki (“Hannin ni Tsugu,” “Ikigami”).

Toei is pouring in 1.5 billion yen for the movie’s production, which includes building 3 life-sized models of the Hayabusa probe (about 6 meters long) under the guidance of JAXA. The studio Toei Animation will be doing CG work for the film.

The script for “Shouwakusei Tansaki Hayabusa” is originally based off a work by journalist Yamane Kazuma, but it also includes information from exclusive interviews with more than 50 people associated with the project. The story covers the challenges faced by the mission’s team over Hayabusa’s 7-year flight to the asteroid 25143 Itokawa and back, becoming the first mission to bring back an asteroid sample to Earth.

The probe, which successfully returned to Earth last year, is the subject of at least two other feature films, including one by 20th Century Fox starring actress Takeuchi Yuko.

The rest of the cast for “Shouwakusei Tansaki Hayabusa” will be announced in the near future. In order to learn the technical knowledge necessary for the film, the cast is conducting technical rehearsals until May 20, when the film begins shooting. In mid-July, they plan to shoot part of the movie overseas, and filming will wrap up at the end of that month.

Toei is aiming to complete post-production in December of this year, making the film ready for release in 2012.

JAXA giving NASA a run for the money on a shoe-string budget

JAXA’s mission are far more ambitious than its budget would suggest.

The agency has no manned missions and operated on 339 billion yen (four billion dollars) this fiscal year — less than one-tenth of the NASA budget, and less than half the annual cost of Europe’s space programme.

Space officials are now fighting back against any further government belt tightening as they plan a follow-up probe to Hayabusa in 2014, which would explore an asteroid named 1999JU3.

JAXA says it hopes its probe would find "organic or hydrated materials" on the asteroid, and to find out whether "there is any relation to life on Earth".

The science and technology minister, Yoshiaki Takagi, last month vowed that "we will strive to secure the budget so that we can offer maximum support" for the Hayabusa-2 project.

His ministry has requested a 100-fold boost to the research budget for Hayabusa-2 to some three billion yen next year.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan sounded sympathetic when he said last month that Japan "must be committed" to space projects.

In future the space agency may take on an even more ambitious task.

An expert panel advising the minister for space development has called for sending a wheeled robot to the Moon in five years — having first considered a two-legged humanoid, which was rejected because of the Moon’s bumpy surface.

It envisions building the first lunar base by 2020, which could be staffed by advanced robots, as a key stepping stone for Japan’s space exploration, a field where Asian competition is heating up.

"It is extremely important to probe the Moon… as we now see the dawn of ‘the Age of Great Voyages’ in the solar system," the panel said, pointing out that "China, India and other countries are aiming to probe the Moon."

The government’s Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy believes a successful space programme does much to lift Japan’s profile on Earth.

"Our country’s space technology, its achievements and human resources are truly diplomatic resources that would boost our influence and position in the international community," it said in a policy report.

"We will promote them as a source of our soft power."

via Japan’s low-cost space programme pushes the limits.

Have you seen the Hayabusa space probe’s asteroid pod in Japan

Thousands of people flocked to an exhibition in Japan on Sunday to see a capsule from the Hayabusa space probe which was hoped to have brought asteroid dust to Earth.

Some 1,800 people were queuing in Tokyo to see the heat-proof pod, which had traveled in space with the unmanned craft for seven years, even before the exhibition opened in the morning, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spokesman said.

More than 7,000 had visited the first public showing of the capsule by early evening, he said, adding that the space agency expects as many as 50,000 people during the five-day exhibition.

The capsule, which journeyed billions of kilometres (miles), was fired back to Earth in June.

Technical problems had plagued the Hayabusa, which at one stage spun out of control and lost contact with JAXA for seven weeks, delaying the mission for three years until the asteroid and Earth re-aligned.

Read the rest of the story: Thousands flock to see asteroid pod in Japan.