JAXA had to reconcile with sad truth – Hitomi became space debris.
This is surely not good news for all organizations, which were participating in Astro-H program, but mostly for JAXA. Their most significant research satellite, which was example of JAXA ability to design, manufacture and operate large and expensive research satellites, became useless before even has started its mission. Now it is only a matter for further investigation and discussion, what were the reasons that Hitomi on 26 March 2016 at around 01:20 GMT lost attitude control and started to fall apart. If previous assumption will be confirmed, that it was partially caused by wrong RCS (Reaction Control System) parameter set after expanding Extendable Optical Bench, JAXA will have to somehow restore the confidence of partners and potential customers. It is worth to remind that Astro-H was result of international cooperation between JAXA and over 70 institutions around the world, including NASA (provider of Two soft X-ray telescopes (SXT-S, SXT-I), Canadian Space Agency (which provided Two hard X-ray telescopes (HXT).
According to official statement published on JAXA website we can recognize how deeply JAXA tried to understand reasons of anomaly and recover, even partially, control over satellite. Special emergency headquarters was established with Jaxa President, Naoki Okumura as a chief, what shows engagement of JAXA in Hitomi case. Unfortunately yesterday JAXA announced about sad truth – Hitomi is permanently out of order. Conclusions from yesterday’s announcement confirmed previous suppositions: Hitomi due the loss, its solar arrays (loss of Extendable Optical Bench (EOB) was not confirmed but there are no proofs that it remains in place) lost power source and failed to recover contact with ground control stations. Radio signals which were received after and were considered as sent from largest piece of satellite, turned out to be not transmitted from Astro-H (still it is under investigation which object has sent these signals). JAXA is not going to perform further attempts of recovering satellite. Agency will put all the efforts to understand nature of the incident and try to discover all the reasons.
On picture above: Let’s have a look on Hitomi in one piece again…