The Ichimura Prize in Science for Distinguished Achievement was awarded to the project manager, Yuichi Tsuda, and two researchers and developers, Yuya Mimasu and Takashi Ono, of the Hayabusa2 project team. The research theme for which the team received this prize was "the achievement of fuelless attitude control using solar sail technology."
The Ichimura Foundation for New Technology presents the Ichimura Prize to technology researchers and research groups who have contributed to and made achievements in the development of industrial or scientific fields. There is an Ichimura Prize in Industry and an Ichimura Prize in Science. The Ichimura Prize in Science, the award received by the Hayabusa2 project team, is "presented to technology researchers or research groups who have contributed to the development of a scientific field in research performed at universities and research institutions and who have made achievements in research that can be put to practical use."
Project Manager Tsuda and the other members of the project team were able to put to practical use a method for attitude control for spacecraft that uses no fuel by actively using solar photon momentum (pressure from light particles from the sun) for the attitude control of spacecraft. This solar pressure disturbs the orbit and attitude of spacecraft in operation, but the team was able to economize on fuel by making good use of this pressure. This method has actually been used for attitude control in the Hayabusa2 asteroid probe and in IKAROS, a small solar power sail demonstrator.