Japanese Akatsuki Spacecraft Misses Orbit With Venus

JAXA's Akatsuki Venus spacecraft. (Image by Akihiro Ikeshita)


The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS/JAXA) performed Venus orbit insertion maneuver (VOI-1) for the Venus Climate Orbiter “Akatsuki” at 8:49 a.m. on December 7 (Japan Standard Time,) but, unfortunately, we have found that the orbiter was not injected into the planned orbit as a result of orbit estimation.

The “Akatsuki” was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on May 21, 2010 (JST.)

JAXA has set up an investigation team led by ISAS Director within JAXA to study the cause of the failure. We will update you with the countermeasures and investigation results.

While we set up a new investigation team to study the cause and countermeasures, we will also review the Venus orbit injection plan again to take the next opportunity in six years when the AKATSUKI flies closest to Venus.

The Planetary Society Comments on Akatsuki Mission

Bill Nye, Executive Director of the Planetary Society, issued the following statement:

“The Planetary Society regrets that the innovative Akatsuki spacecraft seems to have missed its opportunity to lock into an orbit of Venus. Although Akatsuki has already accomplished some remarkable things on its voyage, this setback reminds us how difficult space exploration can be.”

Akatsuki carries on board names and messages from the public, including the members of the Planetary Society. Those names will continue their journey around the Sun with Akatsuki.