On December 3, 2014 (Wednesday), the H-IIA rocket carrying the "Hayabusa 2" asteroid probe was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center. Footage of the launch of live-streamed by JAXA and video of the launch was live-streamed. A public viewing of the launch was held at the UoA auditorium.
Despite being held on a weekday, numerous fans of astronomy came to the venue on the day of the event. Ahead of the much-awaited launch, Miki Narita, spokesperson of the Aizu Sora no Kai (Aizu Astronomy Society*) said, with trepidation, that "This launch was delayed twice, so I'm very glad we were able to hold the public viewing today."
When the scheduled launch of 1:22:04 approached, everyone in the auditorium joined in a countdown. Amidst a tenuous atmosphere, the launch of the H-IIA rocket was met with thunderous applause.
After the launch, the film "HAYABUSA 2: Return to the Universe" was shown. UoA Associate Professor Naru Hirata talked about the relationship between Hayabusa 2 and the UoA. The visitors left the venue with a look of satisfaction after watching Hayabusa 2 separate from the final rocket stage.
With starry eyes, 5th-grader Naoyuki Hashimoto said "It was amazing. I want to build rockets when I grow up." With an expression of relief, Riichi Muramatsu from the Aizu Sora no Kai spoke that "It's been a long road, but we're finally here. From the bottom of my heart, I'm so glad the start of its journey was a success. I will be cheering it until its return to earth."
Scene from the public viewing (Left) Applause burst from the crowd at the moment of takeoff (Right)
Scene from the display within the venue (Left), Visitors folding paper cranes to wish for the successful mission of Hayabusa 2. (Right)
- * Aizu Sora no Kai:
- A society of astronomy-lovers in the Aizu region. The group helped with organizing the public viewing. They are carrying out numerous activates, such as the 88232 Paper Cranes Project aimed at cheering on Hayabusa 2's mission.
Comments from Associate Professor Naru Hirata, who provided commentary during the public viewing
The successful launch of the probe is a big relief. The UoA's real contributions to Hayabusa 2 have to do with the observational devices used to observe the asteroid, and processing the data that those devices gather. Until the probe arrives at the asteroid in 2018 and observations begin, we will be continuing our preparations in order to generate some great results.