After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

Japanese Spacecraft Breaks Up Returning From a Billion-Mile Trip

Posted on June 17, 2010
Filed Under Technology | Leave a Comment

The NASA guys keep broadcasting neat things. You hardly ever know when, or who’s listening. But here’s a NASA team video of a Japanese unmanned spacecraft, the Hayabusa, reentering earth’s orbit and breaking up into flaming pieces that the NASA guys think are “beautiful.” Fascinating, yes, but “beautiful” doesn’t seem quite the word for something that’s being destroyed after a trip of 1.25 billion miles.

The video has become a viral hit on YouTube, with well over 200,000 viewers. It was made from a NASA DC-9 airborne laboratory.

The Hayabusa was launched in May, 2003, Mashable advises,  to reach the Itokawa comet, “in order to gather samples from the comet and study the astral body’s characteristics, including its topography, trajectory, speed and composition. The spacecraft reached the comet in September 2005.”

When it reached the earth’s atmosphere on its return trip recently, the Hayabusa started breaking up into hundreds of flaming pieces. It was as though it was leaving a punch-tape record across the heavens, and then the tape “caught fire” and disintegrated.

This writer has to refresh himself on why it’s necessary to loose returning unmanned space vehicles like this one. But for now, it’s enough to know that the scientists only needed the canister the Hayabusa had with the samples it collected and they’ve retrieved that from its landing place in South Australia.

So have a look at what’s caused all the excitement at NASA and on YouTube. –  Doug Bedell



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