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M-V-5 Rocket Carrying MUSES-C Successfully Launches Hayabusa
M-V-5 Rocket Carrying MUSES-C Successfully Launches Hayabusa
15 May 2003
(Source: Institute of Space and Astronautical Science)

May 15, 2003

The M-V-5 rocket carrying MUSES-C (Mu Space Engineering Spacecraft-3) lifted off successfully from Kagoshima Space Center (KSC) at 13:29:15 on May 9, 2003. The lift off was smooth and 350sec after launch the rocket released the 4th stage, which spun into the specified direction. NASA's Goldstone station received radio signals from MUSES-C 23 minutes later. From data transmitted through Deep Space Network (DSN), we confirmed that: sequences following 4th-stage separation were executed as planned; the explorer was put into the specified interplanetary orbit; and MUSES-C functions were normal. The MUSES-C spacecraft was renamed Hayabusa (Falcon).

The launch was three years and three months after the failed launch of February 10, 2000. Corrective actions included changing the nozzle-throat material of each stage from graphite to 3D-CC (3 dimensional carbon-carbon composite) and static firing tests to verify the changes. We faced a number of unforeseen problems over the period but managed at last to succeed. The success is due to the strong will and dedicated efforts of all the people concerned in for "return to flight" of the M-V rocket. It should also be noted that we learned many lessons over the period. For example, our quantitative understanding on phenomena related to solid rockets has progressed remarkably. Technology for large-scale 3D-CC material construction and nondestructive testing has also advanced dramatically.

Rocket operation for the flight started on April 21, while work for the explorer began in mid-March. All the team members held a meeting on April 27. The daily tasks took more time than expected and the team members worked usually until 8 or 9 p.m. On one particular day, work continued until 2 a.m. and the experiment team staff were extremely exhausted. In addition, I had to order the team to perform many arduous tasks, such as: a round trip to Tokyo to replace a defective part; operation checks from midnight to dawn; and nightlong work to test radio signals during cloudless condition. I would like to ask the team's forgiveness for these tough demands in consideration of the M-V-5's successful launch as scheduled.

The launch was the final one before the integration of three space agencies. I believe that all M-V rocket launches hereafter will be successful by efforts of the team, even though the launch-operation scheme will change within the new organization.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to those who supported the launch.

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Last Updated: 16 Jun 2003