JAXA

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.

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).