On December 03, 2014 at 04:22 UTC the H-2A/202 rocket-carrier was launched from Tanegashima Space Center, an island spaceport in southern Japan. The rocket orbited the “Hayabusa-2” probe on the first leg of its journey to the asteroid (162173) 1999 JU3. This six-year expedition is to bring a piece of an asteroid back to Earth. The launch marked the opening chapter in the most ambitious mission to an asteroid ever attempted. The roundtrip journey will take six years to complete, and the “Hayabusa-2” promises to expand scientists’ understanding of how asteroids may have seeded Earth with water and organic molecules, the building blocks of life. The spacecraft will arrive at the asteroid in June 2018.
The H-2A/202 rocket-carrier also orbited 3 more satellites: PROCYON (Proximate Object Close flyby with Optical Navigation); ARTSAT: Art and Satellite Project; Shin'en 2.