The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has released a video showing the climactic moments of the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft's second descent to the surface of asteroid Ryugu. The goal of the risky operation was to capture newly exposed material from the asteroid's interior, which had been forcefully ejected during the creation of an artificial crater on Ryugu's surface in early April.
The footage of the second dive was captured on July 11, 2019 by Hayabusa 2's publicly-funded onboard small monitor camera (CAM-H). The playback is at 10x actual speed, and shows the spacecraft's final descent to the surface, which occurred between 10:03:54 – 10:11:44 JST.
There has been a lot of speculation over the last twenty years about when asteroid mining might become a reality. This is the first example of the thesis in action. While the program is research-oriented, and only interested in collecting small samples, it is a proof of concept which takes the sector from the fanciful to the possible. Considering the pace of innovation in space technology it is no exaggeration that we may see commercial asteroid mining within the decade.Back to top