Aoshima Next Generation Asteroid Probe
|PRICE:||2000 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Hayabusa(はやぶさ, literally "Peregrine Falcon") was an unmanned spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to return a sample of material from a small near-Earth asteroid named 25143 Itokawa to Earth for further analysis.
Hayabusa, formerly known as MUSES-C for Mu Space Engineering Spacecraft C, was launched on 9 May 2003 and rendezvoused with Itokawa in mid-September 2005. After arriving at Itokawa, Hayabusa studied the asteroid's shape, spin, topography, colour, composition, density, and history. In November 2005, it landed on the asteroid and collected samples in the form of tiny grains of asteroidal material, which were returned to Earth aboard the spacecraft on 13 June 2010.
The spacecraft also carried a detachable minilander, MINERVA, but this failed to reach the surface.
This kit is not the Hayabusa, but is based on it. It may well be the Hayabusa 2 that was recently funded. As the next generation of asteroid probe, it is quite similar to its predecessor and so the majority of the sprues are for the Hayabusa. There is one sprue with a new base and a single new piece to fit on the body of the vehicle. Those pieces shown as 'optional' are for the Hayabusa spacecraft and if one wished, that vehicle could be built using this kit.
Aoshima has not provided a scale for this kit anywhere on the box that I could find, though perhaps it does not really matter. Space kits generally tend to be a real potpourri of scales. The four grey plastic sprues are very nicely molded and entirely free of flash or sink areas. Typical of these kits, most of your time will be spent painting and not building. Make sure you have lots of metallic paints on hand as you will be using them. In a nutshell, one simply builds up the main body of the spacecraft, adds on the reaction thrusters and then attaches the large, one-piece solar panels and supports. The kit does supply a stand as it would be difficult to display a spacecraft like this without one. The stand for this vehicle is different from the one for the Hayabusa, though you could easily use it if you wished as their mission seems to be the same.
Instructions are very well done and while mostly in Japanese, the clear drawings make it easy to understand what is going on. Gunze paint colors are used for color references.
So there you have it, another interesting Japanese space subject. I wonder if Aoshima will venture in the subjects of other nations once they run out of Japanese vehicles? I hope so as it may well increase interest from builders.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours at your local retailer or ask them to order it for you.
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