Japanese satellite stalls in space and won’t reach its asteroids

PROCYON spacecraft

The miniature PROCYON spacecraft (illustrated) was headed for a binary asteroid. Attempts to restart its engines have failed.

University of Tokyo, JAXA

Unfortunately for the tiny PROCYON spacecraft, AAA doesn’t offer roadside assistance in space. The Japanese space agency’s probe was en route to the binary asteroid 2000 DP107, but its ion engines stopped working in March. Following several attempts to restart the engines, the agency announced May 8 that the probe is officially dead.

PROCYON, which is only about 60 centimeters on a side, hitched a ride into space with the Hayabusa 2 probe in December. Hayabusa is Japan’s second mission to pilfer pebbles from an asteroid and return them to Earth. PROCYON was launched to test drive technologies for small, low-cost spacecraft.

headshot of Associate News Editor Christopher Crockett

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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