A capsule ejected from a space cargo vessel returned to Earth on Nov. 12, bringing back experiment samples from the International Space Station in the first such mission for Japan.
The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency said the capsule, measuring 84 centimeters wide and 66 cm high, made a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific near the island of Minamitorishima early in the morning and was retrieved later in the day. The capsule contained protein crystals grown in experiments aboard the ISS.
“I think we’ve succeeded almost as planned,” said Hirohiko Uema-tsu, technology director at JAXA, during a news conference at the agency’s Tsukuba Space Center in Ibaraki Prefecture. “Japan has obtained the technology that is essential for us to move forward.”
JAXA is now aiming to develop a new capsule that can return home without being assisted by a space vessel, while the success of the latest mission is also expected to help in the development of Japan’s own spacecraft for manned missions in the future.(Kyodo)