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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

New Hope for Plucky Japanese Asteroid Mission

• Space
Japanese engineers have devised a plan to combine parts from two partially-failed ion engines to resume the Hayabusa asteroid probe's journey back to Earth.

In a press release Thursday, officials said they will use the neutralizer of Thruster A and the ion source of Thruster B to provide enough power to guide the 950-pound spacecraft home next June.

Hayabusa launched in 2003 with four ion engines. Thruster A was shut down due to instability shortly after launch, while Thruster B was turned off after high voltage in its neutralization system.

Thruster C was manually switched off after signs it might be damaged by high electrical currents, and Thruster D failed two weeks ago due to a voltage spike. 

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