The Japanese Space Agency launched the Nozomi (“Hope”) mission to Mars on July 4, 1998. The planned fifteen-month-long trip to Mars immediately ran into trouble when a thruster failed early in the mission. For five long years, scientists and engineers worked to keep the spacecraft on its way toward the Red Planet. By 2003 it looked like it might make it after all, but all hope was lost when, on December 9, 2003, flight controllers were unable to orient the spacecraft properly for orbital insertion. Nozomi flew by Mars at a distance of about 630 miles (1,000 kilometers) and was propelled into orbit around the Sun.