After 7 years in space, the Japanese asteroid probe Hayabusa returned with what hopefully is a good sample of Itokawa. Finding out if this is the case will take some time as they JAXA are being extremely careful to avoid contamination, which all things considered is smart. Some scientists believe that life on Earth could have come from the asteroids and thus the results could be quite astounding… or rather disappointing if there is nothing there. (No full samples are believed to have been taken, but some dust is possible.) In any case the mission has been a success considering how pioneering it was and how much techniques have been tested. I’ll be eagerly awaiting news on this one!
…and in old news
IKAROS In transit to Venus. The sail deployed on the 10th of June.
COTS Next Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for later this year. No exact dates as of yet. The first launch seems to be largely successful, however the 1st stage booster was not recovered as planned due to a parachute failure. Since it’s supposed to be re-usable this could be a minor setback. The other entrant in the COTS program, Orbital Sciences Corporation, has a launch planned in March 2011 with Taurus II.