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The primary scientific objective of the Muses-C mission is to collect a surface sample of material from an asteroid and return the sample to Earth for analysis. The mission plan calls for a 9 May 2003 launch on an M-5 solid fuel booster from the Kagoshima launch center, with the launch window extending to 25 May. This will be followed by arrival at the asteroid 1998 SF36 in October 2005. Muses-C will initially survey the asteroid surface from a distance of about 20 km and then move close to the surface for a series of soft landings and collection of samples at three sites. On-board optical navigation will be employed extensively during this period because the long communication delay prohibits ground-based real-time commanding

The Muses-C spacecraft has a box-shaped main body 1.5 m along each side and 1.05 m high. The launch mass is 365 kg, including 64 kg of chemical propellant and 29 kg of xenon gas. Two solar system wings protrude from the side and a 1.5 m diameter high-gain parabolic antenna is mounted on top on a two-axis gimbal. Muses-C will be propelled during cruise phases by two microwave ion thruster engines, which use a microwave discharge to ionize xenon gas

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