Schematic of the Hitomi space telescope's on board systems (Image NASA)

The Japanese space agency JAXA analyzed the data collected on its Hitomi Space Telescope, formerly known as Astro-H, to try to understand the reasons why only sporadic signals got received from the satellite since March 26. The most plausible hypothesis is that it lost its attitude because of some invalid data and its maneuvering thrusters didn’t correct the problem due to unsuitable settings. The perspective is grim but there are still hopes to save Hitomi.

The Astro-H space telescope blasting off atop an H-IIA rocket (Image courtesy JAXA)

A little while ago the Japanese Astro-H space telescope was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on a H-IIA rocket. After about fifteen minutes it regularly separated from the rocket’s last stage. It will reach the low-Earth orbit, where it will be positioned at an altitude of about 575 kilometers (about 357 miles).

Kjell Lindgren, Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui (Photo NASA)

A little while ago, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren and JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft, landed without problems in Kazakhstan. It was night when they landed and it was very cold so the crew that take care of assisting them was quicker than ever. They spent nearly five months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on July 23, 2015 as part of Expedition 44.

Artistic concept of the Akatsuki space probe orbiting Venus (Image courtesy JAXA. All rights reserved)

JAXA, the Japanese space agency, confirmed that its space probe Akatsuki has successfully accomplished the maneuvers to allow it to enter the orbit of the planet Venus. These maneuvers took place exactly five years after the failure of the first attempt. The orbit is significantly different from the one programmed for the mission and JAXA engineers are assessing it to schedule some additional maneuvers. However, there’s optimism about the possibility of carrying out the scientific mission Akatsuki was built for.

The International Space Station photographed by a space shuttle Atlantis crew member on May 23, 2010 (Photo NASA)

On November 2, 2000, the first three crew members reached the International Space Station to begin their work in what was then the new outpost of humanity. With that act, American astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko established a continuous human presence there. Over the years, the Station has been expanded to take its current configuration developing wider and wider opportunities to do research that have brought and will bring various technological and scientific developments.