Mission Update: SUCCESS! Akatsuki Is In Orbit Around Venus!
After some tense moments tonight at JAXA HQ, it has been determined that the spacecraft Akatsuki has performed the necessary thruster burn to establish orbit around Venus! Congratulations Akatsuki and JAXA!
According to a JAXA news brief “The orbiter is now in good health. We are currently measuring and calculating its orbit after the operation. It will take a few days to estimate the orbit, thus we will announce the operation result once it is determined.”
Launched May 20, 2010, Akatsuki failed to enter orbit at Venus six months later on Dec. 7 (JST) when a faulty thruster valve prevented the spacecraft from slowing down. Akatsuki has been orbiting the Sun since then, awaiting this second and final (and thankfully successful!) chance to try again.
Added 12/8/15: Here’s an image of Venus acquired by Akatsuki in ultraviolet upon approach from a distance of about 1.1 million km (683,000 miles).