In 2003, Hayabusa was launched from Uchinoura Launch Center, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan. Hayabusa means "peregrine falcon" in Japanese.
Using its ion engines, the space probe gave chase to Itokawa, an asteroid measuring 500 meters in length.
Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the first problem struck the probe; it was hit by one of those annoying solar flares. But this wasn't an average solar flare, it was the biggest solar flare in recorded history! If you ever wanted a space mission to get off to a bad start, this would be it.
The probe sustained damage to its solar panels, which reduced the spacecraft's power-producing efficiency. As Hayabusa's means of getting around space was by using ion engines, the reduction in power delivered by the solar array meant the thrust of the engines suffered, causing a delay in Hayabusa reaching Itokawa.
Despite this early set-back, the probe reached Itokawa in 2005 and took some stunning imagery of the space rock. It was obvious from the photographs that the asteroid was formed of smaller chunks of rock held together by a mutual gravity (known as a "rubble pile"). These observations revealed that Itokawa has a surprisingly low density.