Aoshima 'Akatsuki' and 'IKAROS' spacecraft.

KIT #: 050262
PRICE: $2400 yen SRP
DECALS: None included
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Spacecraft Series #3. Includes two kits.


Akatsuki(あかつき, 暁, literally "dawn"), formerly known as the Venus Climate Orbiter (VCO) and Planet-C, is a Japanese unmanned spacecraft which was intended to explore Venus. It was launched aboard an H-IIA 202 rocket on 20 May 2010, after being delayed because of weather from its initial 18 May scheduled target. The total launch mass of the spacecraft including propellant was 480 kg, 34 kg out of this was scientific instruments. The mission reached Venus on 7 December 2010 (JST) but failed to enter orbit around the planet. It had been intended to conduct scientific research for two or more years from an elliptical orbit ranging from 300 km to 80,000 km from Venus.

Akatsuki is Japan's first planetary exploration mission since the Nozomi probe, which was launched in 1998 but failed to go into a Mars orbit in 2003 as planned.

IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency experimental spacecraft. The spacecraft was launched on 21 May 2010 aboard an H-IIA rocket, together with Akatsuki (Venus Climate Orbiter) and four other small spacecraft. IKAROS is the first spacecraft to successfully demonstrate solar-sail technology in interplanetary space.

On December 8, 2010, IKAROS passed by Venus at about 80,800 km distance, completing the planned mission successfully, and entered extended operation phase.


Opening the box, one finds two wrapped sprues containing the two kits. There is a lot of room for more in the box, but you know how it is with standard box sizes. Both kits are superbly molded and free from the usual glitches. There are ejector pin marks on the back side of many parts, but it appears those will be invisible once the kits are built.

Both are actually quite simple kits and one will spend more time painting that building. The Akatsuki craft does have solar panels that look as if they can be moved and both come with nicely done display stands. The IKAROS craft is simplicity in itself with only eight parts making up the spacecraft.

Instructions are mostly in Japanese but well done and with the usual Gunze paint references that are typical of most Japanese kit companies. I initially found it odd that the solar sail was in 1/144 while the Venus orbiter was in 1/72, but considering the standard lack of display space in most Japanese homes, it makes perfect sense.  


More unusual subjects from Aoshima, though they do seem to be intent on covering most of Japan's space craft, and that is a good thing. Thanks to the simplicity of these kits, they would be appropriate for youngsters, who will probably enjoy all the painting that is required.


September 2011

Thanks to for the preview kit. Ask your retailer to order this one as it is pretty neat.

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