The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on Sunday delayed the launch of its Hayabusa2 space probe for the second time because of bad weather. The launch has been rescheduled to 1:22 p.m. Wednesday, JAXA said.
The agency said it decided to postpone again to strong winds and warned that the launch could be delayed further, depending on the weather. The Hayabusa2 was originally supposed to launch on Sunday but was delayed until Monday by forecasts of thick cloud cover.
The space probe, which is designed to mine an asteroid, is set to embark a six-year mission after being lifted into space by an H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center.
The ¥31 billion project will send the explorer toward the 1999 JU3 asteroid, where it will form a crater to collect materials unexposed to wind and radiation to probe fundamental questions about life and the universe.
Hayabusa2 will take off only weeks after a European probe made a historic landing on a comet.
It is expected to reach the asteroid in mid-2018 and will spend around 18 months near it.
The probe will also study the asteroid’s surface by dropping tiny robots onto it. If all goes well, asteroid samples will be returned to Earth in late 2020.