The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) would like to announce that the 21st Scientific Satellite “Akari” (ASTRO-F) has been smoothly carrying out initial operations, and its major events for the post-launch phase have been successfully completed, with the cover of the observation equipment, the telescope, being removed (the release of the aperture lid.)

The “Akari” was launched by the M-V Launch Vehicle No. 8 (M-V-8) at 6:28 a.m. on February 22, 2006 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Uchinoura Space Center (USC.)

JAXA has been carefully re-examining operation procedures because of trouble in the two-dimensional solar sensor. After we completed the repair work and the operational verification test of the onboard software for stable attitude control, we started the operation for releasing the aperture lid at 4:55 p.m. on April 13, 2006 (JST) from the ground station at the USC. Telemetry then confirmed that the operation was successfully carried out.

Both the power generation and attitude of the “Akari” are stable, and the observation system is also working normally.

After the final verification test for the observation equipment, we plan to report the results of initial image acquisition in mid May.

Prof. Hiroshi Murakami

Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), JAXA +81-994-67-2211