Science & technology Current Affairs - 2020

Japan launches asteroid probe Hayabusa-2

Japan has launched H-IIA rocket carrying a space probe- Hayabusa2 destined for a distant asteroid 1999JU3. The H-IIA rocket blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center in the south of Japan. This launch comes just weeks after a Rosetta mission of European Space Agency made historic landing of Philae probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Key facts of this mission:

  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) sent the probe on a six-year mission. Hayabusa in Japanese means peregrine falcon.
  • Project cost: 31-billion-yen ($260-million)
  • Mission: This project aims to send the explorer towards the 1999JU3 asteroid in deep space. . It will also study the surface of comet by dropping tiny robots.  It will blast a crater in the asteroid to collect materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation, in the hope of answering some fundamental questions about life and the universe
  • Duration: It is expected to reach the asteroid in mid-2018 and spend around 18 months in the area. If all goes well, asteroid samples will be returned to Earth in late 2020.


Earlier, Japan’s Hayabusa 1 probe, had made history for round-trip flight to an asteroid- Itokawa from 2003 to 2010. The first Hayabusa mission had encountered several crippling problems, including a fuel leak, failures in its pointing system, and a glitch with the craft’s sample collection system. Despite the challenges, the spacecraft returned to Earth in 2010, carrying a fraction of the asteroid specimens intended.

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft returns safely

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft has concluded its mission to the ISS (International Space Station) and returned to Earth. The spacecraft was launched in September in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle. This was Dragon’s fifth visit to the ISS.


Dragon carried cargo of almost 5,000 pounds of supplies and experiments to the International Space Station during a month long stay.  The Dragon delivered a multitude of food, clothing, equipment, experiments and supplies for the ISS and her crew including a 3D printer.


Dragon also carried 20 mice who will now stay at the ISS. The mice were taken into space in a new hardware system designed to carry rodents safely from Earth to the ISS and provide long-term accommodation aboard the ISS. It is being done to help researchers study the long-term effects of microgravity on mammalian physiology.


  • Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, orSpaceX, is a space transport services company that is headquartered in Hawthorne, California, USA
  • It was founded in 2002 by formerPayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
  • The goal behind the setting up of SpaceX was to reduce space transportation costs and enable thecolonization of Mars
  • SpaceX has developed two reusable launch vehicles: the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9, apart from a spacecraft called Dragon
  • SpaceX is a holder of the following records:-
  • It was responsible for the first privately funded, liquid-fueled rocket to reach orbit
  • It is the first privately funded company to successfully launch orbit and recover a spacecraft
  • It is the first private company to send a spacecraft to the ISS
  • Is the first private company to send a satellite intogeosynchronous orbit


  • Dragon is a free flying spacecraft that was designed by SpaceX
  • It was designed to deliver cargo and also people to orbiting destinations in space
  • In 2012, it became the first commercial spacecraft in history to delivery cargo to the ISS and also return cargo safely back to Earth
  • SpaceX is currently developing a new version of Dragon under an agreement with NASA, whereby it will be able to carry crew-members. Dragon’s first manned test flight is expected to occur in a couple of years