Junichiro Kawaguchi

Junichiro Kawaguchi
Junichiro Kawaguchi
Credit: 中部経済産業局ホームページ

Occupation: Project Manager, Professor

Year born: 1955

Research Areas: Engineering, Planetary Exploration


"the most important thing is creativity - not repeating the same way of doing things but finding completely new methods."

Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency


Early Life

Junichiro was born in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. He studied for a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Kyoto University and completed a PhD in Aeronautics at the University of Tokyo.

Career Highlights

Junichiro led the Japanese Hayabusa mission. This was the world’s first successful mission to land on an asteroid and bring samples of it back to Earth. Junichiro was involved in the project from the very beginning. He was in his 30s when the mission started and in his 50s when it returned to Earth.

Hayabusa (Japanese for ‘falcon’) experienced several serious problems during its mission. Junichiro’s leadership and resilience during the difficult voyage was vital. He and his team were able to save the spacecraft by engineering a detour, though this added 3 years to its voyage!

Junichiro worked for many years as a Professor in Aerospace Engineering course at the University of Tokyo. He also served as president of Japan's Society for Space and Astronautical Science in Japan.

During the Hayabusa mission, Junichiro collaborated with American and Australian scientists. In 2019, he became an honorary fellow of The Australian National University where he will help support the next generation of space scientists. He has worked on several spacecraft, including two Moon exploration satellites.


In celebration of the Hayabusa mission, a Lego figure of Junichiro was released. Junichiro is the author of many books and articles and has appeared on film and television. Three feature films have been made about the Hayabusa mission.