JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference October 2015

JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference

Date and time: From 11:00 - 11:40 a.m. on Oct. 8 (Thu.), 2015
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Shigeki Kamigaichi, JAXA Public Affairs Department Director

This week was a “Nobel Prize week”. I would like to send my congratulations to Professors Satoshi Omura and Takaaki Kajita on their prize wining. It is very delightful news for Japan, and I am also very happy.
I am especially thrilled because Professor Kajita is a researcher in the space field, the same as us at JAXA, though his approach to space is quite different. As he is also studying the mystery of the birth of space, Professor Kajita participates in JAXA’s various subcommittee and study meetings to provide us with advice. In that sense, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation and congratulations over his prize wining. Through this precious opportunity, we shall work hard for the Japanese aerospace research and development (R&D) industry to be highly regarded throughout the world. I also hope the aerospace field can be developed further.

JAXA is promoting the D-SEND project to reduce the sonic boom generated by the flight of super-sonic aircraft. I have already reported that we conducted a D-SEND test. Since then, we have taken time to analyze the results, and, today, I can introduce an outline of the analysis results. First of all, it showed that the measured data verified our technology of reducing the sonic boom. I cannot mention at what level the sonic boom was reduced, as I do not have precise data now. We will report more details at a press conference to be held on Oct. 27. Let me try to give you one clear example. If we applied our technology to the Concorde, whose operations were suspended in 2003, the sonic boom would be reduced to about half. Even with that, the Concorde could not fly over the ground at that halved sonic boom level. The configuration of our aircraft has a significant effect on reducing the sonic boom, but the weight of an airplane also plays an important role of generating the sonic boom. If the weight of the Concorde could be reduced to half, its sonic boom could further go down to one fourth. Then, it could meet the requirements to fly over populated areas. The Concorde once flew as a commercial airplane, but its services were suspended due to environmental problems and the sonic boom. Thanks to our global-leading technology, R&D in this area will probably be more activated. We will report our test results at the sonic boom meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization to seek the opinions of other aviation organizations around the world. Please join our report meeting to be held on Oct. 27 for more accurate information.

This Monday (Oct. 5), JAXA and CNES (Le centre national d'études spatiales) signed a revised mutual cooperation agreement. I felt very honored as I exchanged this intra-agency agreement in the presence of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. JAXA and CNES have been collaborating under the inter-agency cooperation agreement for a long time. The major purpose of the revision this time, based on the agreement between Dr. Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of the CNES, and I, is to involve more management-level personnel when we choose research themes so that we can give priority to some R&D projects. As you have already noticed, the global situation around space has been changing drastically lately. Under such circumstances, both President Le Gall and I share the common understanding of the necessity to reorganize our agencies’ roles as public research organizations. In that sense, JAXA is now promoting “new-born JAXA” activities. More specifically, a strategic meeting has been established with the attendance of executives in charge of planning of both agencies. To date, we have tended to come up with project themes in a “bottom-up” manner from researchers’ opinions. We decided to change this conventional method. Secondly, we set up three prioritized areas, namely establishing a “future joint mission study” team, “space applications for society (Down Stream Applications)”, which is mainly for more beneficial use of information from satellites, and the joint study and development of “parts under the space environment” which can bear very harsh conditions. We will promote our activities according to the agreement to fully bear fruit from this revision.

We also established a program of Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration, and we are asking public opinions for a specific theme. Before the public tender, we plan to hold an explanatory session today (Oct. 8), so please join us. This program is based on one of the policy goals stipulated in the Basic Plan on Space Policy, “to organize a stable procurement environment for basic components of space systems”. We would like to seek people’s opinions as much as possible.

The KOUNOTORI5 completed its mission as we have previously announced. We also started a different approach for the use of the “Kibo” from the conventional method, thus I will report you the result. In particular, we replaced the exposed instruments of the Kibo, thus we are planning to have an opportunity to announce the achievements to date in the near future. I hope we can let you know more details soon.

The name of the Hayabusa2’s target asteroid has been decided to be “Ryugu”. We were happy that the International Asteroid Union accepted our proposed name. I hope that many Japanese citizens like this name. “Ryugu” does not ring a bell for foreigners, but, I guess, Japanese are quite familiar with this name thus they should love it.

We have a launch schedule of the H-IIA F29 on Nov. 24. The payload this time is a communication satellite of Canada’s Telesat, whose planned orbit is geostationary orbit. For the first time, we will apply new technology developed by the H-IIA Upgrade Project Team. We will bring the payload to the geostationary orbit with fewer burdens on the payload side by incorporating the new technology into the second stage of the launch vehicle for longer flight and third-time ignition. We also plan to have an explanatory session for this technology in the near future. More details will come soon.

Today’s last topic is the “Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)”. Mr. Ishida of JAXA will introduce the CEOS later, and, currently, JAXA’s Vice President Shizuo Yamamoto is the group's chairperson to lead its activities. The CEOS meeting will be held between Nov. 4 and 6 at Kyoto Prefectural International Center. Utilization of Earth observation satellites has become very practical lately, as I have been informing you. In the case of the diastrophism at Owakudani valley in Mt. Hakone, observation data from an Earth observation satellite was used for decision making. I feel that the application of such satellites has now reached a different stage. Many countries started realizing the importance of Earth observation satellites, and I also feel we are in such a phase. The role of the CEOS chairperson is quite demanding, but JAXA would also like to further promote practical application of Earth observation data, thus we expect that other related organizations will also do likewise.