The asteroid explorer “Hayabusa” which landed on the asteroid “Itokawa” last November, delivered its probe container for acquired samples to the re-entry capsule, stored it in the capsule, then tightly shut the lid (with latches and seals.)

Since February, JAXA tried a new attitude control method to operate the ion engine, and engine running trials in phases have been underway since late March.

It is scheduled to start fully fledged engine operations in mid April to return to Earth.

The operation of the Hayabusa is still undergoing difficulties, but JAXA will do its utmost to make the explorer return home in June 2010.