The HTV-6 cargo spacecraft blasting off atop a H-IIB rocket (Image NASA TV / JAXA)

A little while ago the HTV-6 spacecraft blasted off atop a H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima space center in Japan for a resupply mission to the International Space Station. About fifteen minutes after the launch, the cargo spacecraft separated regularly from the rocket’s last stage, entered its preliminary orbit and deployed its solar panels and navigation antennas.

The Japanese space agency JAXA announced the impossibility to restore at least part of its Hitomi space telescope’s functions. After the interruption of the contacts, in the course of April JAXA started an investigation in order to restore Hitomi’s functions although the damages assessed didn’t leave much hope. The attempts were expected to go on for months, instead the situation turned out to be so bad that they were forced to declare the loss of the satellite.

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.