It seems like half the people I know have put hours in to Minecraft, but I’ve been spending my time with another indie sandbox game: Kerbal Space Program, a rocket-building spaceflight simulation. KSP gives you a bunch of rocket parts, an editor to build those parts in to complete rockets, and a mini solar system to fly your rockets around. Even though there are no explicit challenges to complete — or at least, not yet — if you’re a rocket nerd like me, it’s still an absolute blast.
Hayabusa, the little spacecraft that could, defied the odds last night when its sample return container safely parachute-landed in Woomera. Launched by the Japanese space agency, JAXA, back in 2003, Hayabusa spent two years travelling to an asteroid named Itokawa, where it attempted to collect samples from the asteroid’s surface to return to Earth. The Hayabusa mission has been plagued with problems — pre-launch delays, failures during the Itokawa encounter, and engine and communication failures on the return trip — but after five years, it finally managed to limp home.
It’s been really interesting to see how Japanese people celebrated the return of Hayabusa — cuteness was out in full force:
There was even a Hayabusa cosplayer at JAXA’s public viewing area! JAXA is doing some very cool stuff at the moment — its recently-launched IKAROS spacecraft will hopefully prove the potential for solar sails for space travel — so I can’t wait to see what they, and the Japanese public, come up with in the future.