JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference November 2014

JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference

Date and time: From 11:00 - 11:20 a.m. on Nov. 13 (Thu.), 2014
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Takao Akutsu, JAXA Public Affairs Department, Media Relations Group Manager

The draft of the new Basic Plan on Space Policy was published on Nov. 8, and JAXA's role is clearly defined as "the core organization that provides technical support for the entire governmental development and utilization of space projects." This definition is the same as the one in the current plan. Thus we would like to continue to steadily promote R&D for satellites and launch vehicles as well as studies of space exploration and space science as an implementation organization.

The Cabinet Office's Space Strategy Office asked for JAXA's cooperation to let the wider public know that the office is accepting comments from the public. Accordingly, JAXA announced that on our website.

On Nov. 4, a meeting of the International Space Station Heads of Agency (ISS HOA) was held in Paris, France, in which I participated. It has been two and a half years since the last meeting in Quebec, Canada, on March 1, 2012. The space agencies from five major poles gathered at the conference, namely the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and JAXA.
At the HOA this time, the following points were confirmed as common understanding. They are also stated in the joint statement that has already been published.

  • Recognizing the full mission breadth of the ISS from research that benefits all of humanity, to technology development, to expanding commercial use of low Earth orbit, to enhancing international cooperation and understanding, the agency heads reaffirmed their support for continued ISS operations.
  • The heads discussed the many ways that research on ISS is benefitting people on Earth, from biomedical breakthroughs to new materials and technologies. The international partnership is increasing scientific output of the space station through collaboration to meet the needs of the expanding user community and serve as a foundation for future exploration endeavors.
  • The ISS partner agencies are working through their respective governmental procedures for continued ISS utilization through at least 2020 and noted the U.S. commitment to extend ISS utilization to at least 2024. They also noted the ongoing work by other governments for a similar extension. In reviewing the strong commitment that enabled 14 years of continuous human presence on ISS in low-Earth orbit, the agency leaders noted the stable, solid, and robust ISS partnership that will serve as the basis for working together in future human exploration.
  • The heads reaffirmed the ISS is the foundation for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit highlighting its technical, scientific, and developmental capabilities. The ISS partnership will continue to advance the use of the ISS for the benefit of humanity.

By taking that opportunity, I held a bilateral meeting with the head of ROSCOSMOS. We had already signed an agreement between the two organizations and performed cooperative research in the field of biology, but we discussed how to promote and further broaden our joint research.

The 21st Session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-21) will be held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) and the Tokyo International Exchange Center (Plaza Heisei) for four days between Dec. 2 (Tue.) thru 5 (Fri.) cosponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and JAXA.

At the previous forum in Vietnam, we agreed to reconfirm the purpose of the APRSAF, and to tackle its reform for further development as we celebrated the 20th anniversary. One of the special features of the forum this year is that we reviewed and reorganized the working group framework for contributing more to solve social issues in the Asian-Pacific region. In addition, many people from users of space technology organizations plan to participate in the forum. Moreover, the space exploration field, which has been promoted by international collaboration, will also be one of the topics of discussion.

As a big theme, we set up a slogan of "Leap to the Next Stage: Delivering Innovative Ideas and Solutions" with the determination that we are striving for providing innovative ideas and solutions as the new stage of the APRSAF.

The forum will be held in Japan for the first time in nine years, and we will receive cooperation and support in a wide range of fields including many ministries, some of which are space technology users. The general co-chairmen will be Deputy Director General Isogai of MEXT, and former COPUOS chairman Horikawa.

We plan to have an opportunity to introduce the APRSAF as well as Asia's space activities and their trends to you on Nov. 19, prior to the APRSAF.

As the Press Day for the Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa2" was held, it is now waiting for its scheduled launch day of Nov. 30. Talking about a Press Day, some of you may have realized that the second stage tank area of the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 26 was painted in white at the Press Day for the launch vehicle sponsored by and held at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. According to the launch plan of the Hayabusa2 this time, a series of post-launch operations including its solar allay paddle deployment will be performed in the view area from Japan. Because of that plan, it takes about one hour and 20 minutes between the second stage engine first-time cutoff and second-time ignition by making one circle around the Earth. The tank is painted white and additionally equipped with a cooling function in order to minimize the reduction of oxygen and hydrogen due to evaporation and other factors during the coast flight. This renovation was based on some of the development attainments of the new core launch vehicle, and we have already verified its effectiveness through the H-IIA F21 and 24 to apply for the F26.

Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa2" support campaign

On Oct. 21, I announced the official logo of the Hayabusa2 support campaign and told you that the Yo-Kai Watch movie ( "Secret of the Birth of Yo-Kai Warch" ) was selected as the first official sponsor.

Ken Corporation Ltd., Taisho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., and Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. were selected as co-sponsors of the Hayabusa2 support campaign. As part of the campaign, we also started a site called "Let's countdown together" to facilitate more people's participation. We would like to energize the campaign by joining hands with those supporters/companies and other supporters.

Japan elected as a chair country of the CEOS

On Oct. 30, Japan was selected as a chair country of the Committee of Earth Observation Satellites at its plenary meeting, and JAXA Vice President Shizuo Yamamoto, who is in charge of the Satellite Applications Mission Directorate, assumed the chairman's post.

The CEOS was established in 1984 to internationally coordinate activities of Earth observation missions from space. .) It is the only organization that specializes in Earth observation satellites in the world. For the last 30 years, CEOS has been organizing Earth observation satellite missions planned by each country to facilitate collaboration with data users by promoting data sharing and problem solving for social issues by using acquired data. CEOS is concurrent with one of JAXA's policies, which is to contribute to solving social issues using satellites. JAXA will assume the chairmanship for one year until Nov. 2015 to disseminate the important roles of earth observation satellites.

Application of space technology for public health and hygiene area

I would like to introduce cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) for polio eradication using space technology.

Polio is a disease infected by oral transmission, and causes paralysis of limbs. The WHO lists two urgent tasks namely regular sampling of a sewer system to understand virus dissemination and organizing a system to swiftly detect and address the disease at the time of reinfection. For the effective implementation of them both, it is important to understand the sewerage flow (analyzing the sewer flow system) and to take a sample at the area where sewerage flows in from more populated regions. The WHO is currently targeting Nigeria, and is performing a water flow system analysis using the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) with 90-meter and 30-meter precision, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The WHO lately recognized 5-meter precision DEM using ALOS data, which is under preparation by JAXA, and asked us and the Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan (RESTEC) to conduct a test analysis in Nigeria. As a result, we were able to cover about 5 times more area around the sewerage flow (downstream areas) compared to the 20-meter DEM, and the WHO confirmed the validity. Furthermore, the WHO is now studying the application plan of the ALOS DEM in other Polio infected countries and/or those who are facing its risk.

I highly evaluate the above space technology usage as proof that if we offer high-quality successful technology we can contribute to more effective solutions to social issues by applying technology to broader fields.