On February 17th this year, JAXA launched the X-ray satellite HITOMI. On 26th of March, space debris was spotted close to the spacecraft and the communication with the satellite was lost. Further investigation revealed that a basic engineering error in the satellite’s control system might be the cause of the failure. Now JAXA is said to plan a successor mission.
The body and design of the new spacecraft will be similar to that of HITOMI, thus speeding up its development and construction. If the mission is approved the scheduled launch will be in 2020. One complication though may be that the project needs to be approved by NASA, too, since the American space agency had built the main instrument of HITOMI.
Although, loss of HITOMI was a major hit to X-ray astronomy, it seems we may have a second chance to shed light on the high energy processes of the universe.