JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference February 2016

JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference

Date and time: From 10:30 - 11:00 a.m. on Feb. 25 (Thu.), 2016
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Yoshikazu Shoji, JAXA Public Affairs Department Director

X-ray Astronomy Satellite "Hitomi" (ASTRO-H) launch

"Hitomi", launched at 5:45:00 p.m. on February 17 (Wed.), 2016, is flying smoothly. It is now in the critical phase, thus we are prudently conducting initial functional verification until sometime around February 28. We are especially happy as we have confirmed one of the critical points, if the cooling system to maintain cryogenic temperature for increasing the X-ray resolution works properly to reach and keep the preordained temperature. We will further check if the expected functions are properly activating. Everything is currently going well.

JAXA astronauts' activity

Astronaut Kimiya Yui will stay in Japan for four weeks to hold a mission debriefing session in five locations in the country. We will do our utmost to facilitate better understanding of people in Japan about his activities at the International Space Station (ISS) and the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo".

Agreement on paid use of High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) experiment on Kibo

As I told you in my joint press conference yesterday, JAXA and Japan's first biopharmaceutical venture company, PeptiDream Inc. (PeptiDream), signed an outsourcing agreement on the "comprehensive implementation of the High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) experiment on the Kibo of the ISS". From our point of view, the agreement this time is slightly different from a conventional PCG experiment, as PeptiDream is not just a company for creating innovative drugs, but also has a role to perform PCG experiments that lead to drug discoveries or research in a style of creating a drug discovery platform. Talking about a platform, our Kibo is also a platform of the micro-gravity environment. Therefore, activities based on this agreement will be novel and different from the conventional operation of crystalizing a specific protein to analyze its structure to create a certain medicine. PepiDream is a venture company, and I heard it collaborates with various drug discovery companies. I expect that this agreement will contribute to gain more knowledge that will be a bud of chance to create a new drug. Another point is that, I believe, this agreement is based on the fact that our PCG experiment technology in the micro-gravity environment is highly regarded. It is also important to improve this technology. In addition, the business speed of the venture company is very fast, thus it is imperative and also a good opportunity for us to speed up our operations. In that sense, the agreement is welcomed. We would like to steadily make progress to meet expectations. We also hope to make further appeals for the use of the Kibo to private companies.

New agreement with the DLR

Executives of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) are now in Japan, and the chairperson of the DLR executive board and I will sign a cooperative agreement at the German Embassy this evening. Today, the environment surrounding space development has been changing significantly. Under such circumstances, we both agreed to strengthen our more strategic and cooperative partnership. We would like to develop such a relationship by selecting themes that can benefit from the agreement.

First hiring through the "cross appointment system"

The Japanese government set up a "cross appointment system" to utilize outside excellent human resources, and we have been working to use this system for the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center. As a result, one person from a private company started working for us on Feb. 1. We will coordinate with individual cases to increase the number of people hired through this system.

Upgrade of mainstay launch vehicle

Data was acquired for the low-impact separation mechanism for the mainstay launch vehicle when the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 30 was launched. We still need to analyze more details, but the data acquired to date shows that the expected results have been mostly achieved, hence, we can drastically reduce gravity at the time of payload separation. I hope to make this achievement one of the strong selling points of Japan's launch technology. This result will also be incorporated into the H3 Launch Vehicle.

Support message

JAXA will begin the support message campaign to the Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace "EGR" project this afternoon. For more details please look at the website.