Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) along with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd on 3 December 2014 launched its second-generation asteroid explorer Hayabusa 2 from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan's southwestern Kagoshima prefecture.
The Hayabusa 2 was launched aboard the H-2A Launch Vehicle No.26 (H-2A F26) and it is the second mission of Japan after Hayabusa (MUSES-C) launched in 2003 to collect asteroid samples.
Hayabusa 2 will explore one of the C-type asteroids called 1999 JU3 in space, retrieve materials and bring them to Earth.
The Hayabusa2 is expected to reach the asteroid in mid-2018 and return to earth in late 2020. During its 18 month stay it will blow a crater in a remote asteroid and study it. It will bring back rock samples in hopes of gathering clues to the origin of Earth.
At the same time, it will attempt to obtain new technologies such as creation of artificial craters and high-speed communications in deep space.
Haybusa 2 weighs 600 kg and loaded with a set of spectrometers, cameras, variety of remote-sensing instruments and a small lander and a rover.
What: launched by Japan
When: 3 December 2014