Research & Activities


Kuninaka, Hitoshi

Kuninaka, Hitoshi
Kuninaka, Hitoshi
Planetary exploration


(Sorry, Japanese only.No English page)

Main Publication List and Awards

2003 Technical Prize by the Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Science “Microwave Discharge Ion Engine System”

2006 National Science Society, Space Pioneer Award to Hayabusa (MUSES-C) Mission Team

2007 Best Paper Award in 2005 IEPC of Electric Rocket Propulsion Society, “Asteroid Rendezvous of HAYABUSA Explorer Using Microwave Discharge Ion Engines”, IEPC-2005-10

2007 Best Paper Award in 2006 of AIAA Electric Propulsion Technical Committee, “Powered Flight of HAYABUSA in Deep Space”, AIAA Paper 2006-4318

2010 AIAA Electric Propulsion Outstanding Technical Achievement Award of AIAA Electric Propulsion Technical Committee to Hayabusa Ion Thruster Team

2010 58th Kikuchi-Kan Prize to Hayabusa Project Team

2010 Asahi Newspaper Prize to Hayabusa Project Team

2010 Establishment of Round-trip Space Technology in Hayabusa Asteroid Mission, Special Prize of the Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan

2011 National Science Society, Von Braun Award to Hayabusa Project Team

2011 Laurels for Team Achievement HAYABUSA, International Academy of Astronautics

2012 Fellowship of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

2012 International SpaceOps Award for Outstanding Achievement to Hayabusa Operations Team by SpaceOps Organization

Research Interests

He researches the plasma interaction of satellites and develops electric propulsion. He participated in the satellite project, Space Flyer Unit, from 1988 to 1996, and made it return to Earth via Space Shuttle STS-72 successfully. He invented the microwave discharge ion engines, which made Hayabusa explorer round trip between Earth and S-type asteroid Itokawa (1998SF36) from 2003 to 2010. Now he as the project manager leads to develop Hayabisa2 explorer, which will be launched to C-type asteroid 1999JU3 in 2014.