TECH

Japanese Hayabusa-2 Launches On Collision Court With Asteroid

03/12/2014 11:38 GMT | Updated 03/12/2014 11:59 GMT

The Japanese space agency has successfully launched a space craft intended to smash into an asteroid.

The Hayabusa-2 craft lifted off aboard an H2 rocket from Tanegashima space port on Tuesday.

The craft will travel for six years through the solar system, aiming to reach a remote asteroid by 2018. It will then spend 18 months studying the rock, a process which will including firing a projectile at the asteroid to blast open a crater and then look inside with the orbiting explorer.

The craft will then attempt to return to Earth in late 2020.

Japan hopes the mission, like ESA's recent successful landing on the comet 67p, will provide useful insights into the origins of the solar system. It also follows the previous Hayabusa mission in 2010, in which another Japanese explorer managed to collect material from the surface of an asteroid.