Japan’s first robotic mission to Venus and an experimental solar sail launched successfully from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. The Venus Climate Orbiter, or Akatsuki, the IKAROS solar sail and several smaller payloads launched aboard an H-IIA rocket at 6:58 local time May 21 (21:58 UTC May 20). The video shows a very smooth-looking launch, and 27 minutes later, JAXA confirmed the successful separation of Akatsuki. Then, about 15 minutes after that, the solar sail canister separated.
“We would like to express our profound appreciation for the cooperation and support of all related personnel and organizations that helped contribute to the successful launch of the H-IIA F17,” JAXA said in a press release.
Akatsuki should arrive at Venus in December. The IKAROS solar sail will be checked out before being deployed in a few weeks.