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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Japan asteroid probe to lift off Monday after delay

•, AFP

Hayabusa2 is now scheduled to blast off aboard Japan's main H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 1:22 pm (0422 GMT), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Saturday.

The agency had originally planned to launch the rocket on Sunday only weeks after a European spacecraft's historic landing on a comet captivated the world's attention.

But a forecast of thick cloud over the weekend forced the agency to delay the launch.

The 31 billion yen ($260 million) project is sending a probe towards the unpoetically-named 1999 JU3 asteroid in deep space.

It will blast a crater in the asteroid to collect virgin materials unexposed to millennia of solar wind and radiation, in the hope of answering some fundamental questions about life and the universe.

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