Hideo Itokawa

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Hideo Itokawa (1961)

Hideo Itokawa (糸川 英夫 Itokawa Hideo?, July 20, 1912 – February 21, 1999) was a pioneer of Japanese rocketry and of the Japanese space program. In Japan, he was popularly known as Dr. Rocket, and he has been described in the media as the father of Japanese space development.

The asteroid 25143 Itokawa, named in honor of Itokawa, is notable as the target of the Hayabusa mission.


Born in Tokyo, he skipped grades in school and graduated from the Tokyo Imperial University in 1935, having majored in aeronautical engineering. In 1941, he became an assistant professor of the Imperial University of Tokyo. During World War II, he was involved in designing aircraft at the Nakajima Aircraft Company and designed the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa "Oscar" fighter.

He became a full professor in 1948. In 1955 Itokawa worked on the Pencil Rocket for Japan's space program. He retired from his post at the university in 1967 and established an institute.

He wrote 49 books, and was, many times, a best-selling author. Topics that Itokawa became interested in or took as a hobby, include such sports as basketball, golf and swimming, as well as orchestral arrangements and such instruments as cello, harmonica, organ, piano, violin and taishōgoto (a string instrument invented in Japan). He was also interested in baton twirling, brain waves, English plays, Mah Jong, philosophy, rocket engineering and novel writing.


  • Gyakuten no Hasso
  • Hachijussai no Aria
  • Koya wo Yuku


  • Japan-An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Kodansha, Tokyo, 1993, p. 638

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