On the theme of the “Little Spacecraft that Could,” we bring you the amazing seven year odyssey of Japan’s Hayabusa – which is Japanese for Peregrin Falcon.
Three years, late, after a fuel leak and a cascade of failures that should have made it a piece of space junk, Hayabusa is on the home stretch — hopefully bring back some dust from an asteroid.
The spacecraft has a novel propulsion system, which failed, but the ground team was able to rig up a makeshift way to generate thrust by using operative components of different engines. If all goes well, the Falcon should feel the gravitational pull of Earth this June.
Follow Hayabusa and lots of other space stuff on “This Week In Space.”