Wednesday, April 21, 2010

News: 'Galactic basketball bound for Oz' for The Courier-Mail

For the Courier online.

Tiny Japanese spacecraft scheduled to land in Australia  

Anna Angel

A JAPANESE spacecraft the size of a basketball carrying material from an asteroid is set to touch down in Woomera in June.

The Hayabusa spacecraft, which weighs only 17 kilograms, will be the first craft to bring asteroid materials back to Earth.

Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner said Australian authorities will assist the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency in ensuring a safe return for Hayabusa.

The Australian innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said this was a great example of Australia's ongoing contribution to international space programs.

"Australia is proud to support Japan in this world-first expedition," Senator Carr said.
The craft, which first made contact with the asteroid Itokawa in 2005, will land in Australian defence land, at the Woomera Prohibited Area in Southern Australia.

Dr Michael Green of the department of innovation said the capsule is protected by heat-sensors that activate as it nears Earth, and a parachute will be deployed before its landing.

"People looking at the night sky at the right time will be able to see a shooting star like object," Dr Green said.   
Original story here.

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