JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference June 2016

JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference

Date and time: From 11:00 - 11:45 a.m. on June 15 (Wed), 2016
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Yoshikazu Shoji, JAXA Public Affairs Department Director

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

Through a subcommittee for Hitomi under the Committee for Space Development and Application of MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), JAXA has been explaining the factors that resulted in the ASTRO-H (Hitomi) anomaly. During the investigation, we found that the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science's (ISAS) project management method was the root cause of this anomaly. The conventional management method at the ISAS was to develop a satellite or a probe with a limited number of employees on a low budget by working together with a manufacturer as a team. As a member of the subcommittee commented, this method worked well for small-scale projects. However, as is the international trend, satellites and spacecraft that are currently under development at JAXA are relatively large, and have far more complex systems compared to ones prior. In such a context, the previously conventional ISAS methods were not necessarily suited for the production of modern satellites and spacecraft. JAXA understands that, in the wake of the ASTRO-H anomaly, we must take responsibility for and deeply reflect upon our production methods.

We take the fact that we had to abandon the ASTRO-H operation very seriously. Taking this opportunity, I sincerely apologize for our failure from the bottom of my heart to the people of Japan and astrophysical researchers.

As the president of JAXA, due to the disappointment experienced by the Japanese people and a lost sense of reliability in Japan’s space enterprises upon this setback, I decided on the following.

To express our regret and caution ourselves, three executives, namely myself (President Naoki Okumura), JAXA's operations supervisor, Senior Vice President Mamoru Endo, who supports me, and Vice President Saku Tsuneta, who is also the ISAS Director General and in charge of the ASTRO-H project, were repremanded by the president andwill take a 10% pay cut from our monthly salaries for four months, to be effective July 2016.

We would like to use this incident as an opportunity to remind ourselves again that JAXA, including ISAS, takes ultimate responsibility to verify the overall viability of a spacecraft’s systems, and that we must continuously improve our working methods. More specifically, we will clarify responsibility shared between companies and thoroughly remind everyone to share information regarding ISAS project operations in writing, not only among pertinent members, but also with members of all other relevant departments; we will more strictly keep records of quality control; and we will reconsider our operation of reviews and independent evaluation methods. We will perform the aforementioned as soon as possible. We will first focus on more immediately relevant projects, but will simultaneously begin improving our basic working methods, which we acknowledge may take a longer to resolve.

Considering these changes for our latest project, I have ordered the project manager of the Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace “ERG” to focus on the system management of the spacecraft, which is scheduled to be launched within this Japan Fiscal Year. I have also assigned another person to be responsible for generating scientific achievements in order to reconstruct the organizational structure such that responsibilities are more clarified and specialized. In addition, ERG development and operation preparation will be comprehensively reviewed by a team that consists of members from overall JAXA departments, including the Space Technology Directorate. So that we can transport ERG to the Uchinoura Space Center for launch, we expect to finalize the review by the end of August.
From now on, we would also ask manufacturers who understand the reforms we are currently undertaking, and are willing to take major role and responsibility in joining JAXA’s projects, to actively participate in our enterprises.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), the cooperative organizations for the ASTRO-H project, have informed us that, if JAXA considers the development of a successor to the ASTRO-H, both NASA and ESA will once again be open to discuss the possibility of cooperation. Going forth, JAXA will consider the originally intended international role of ASTRO-H in its future space enterprises.

Astronaut Onishi

Astronaut Takuya Onishi passed the final test held on May 26 and 27 in Russia for boarding the International Space Station. He was then officially certified to complete training as a crewmember at the crew certification ceremony on May 31. I also participated in the ceremony and felt that his ability is highly appreciated. As we have already announced, the target launch date of the Soyuz spacecraft, which Astronaut Onishi will be aboard, has been postponed to July 7, and accordingly, we will perform the final check for the operation plan, procedures and other things regarding the operation and utilization of the ISS's Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo." For that purpose, Astronaut Onishi returned to Japan for a short period of time. I hope he takes this mission as an opportunity to further strengthen ties with the Flight Director such that the utilization of ISS/Kibo is fully realized and that he makes achievements there.

Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation (GSMaP)

Let me also introduce some examples of using the GSMaP, Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation. The GSMaP has been utilized all over the world, and it is highly appreciated as a very effective tool. Its use is becoming more and more popular, especially in areas where no ground radar is available, as the GSMaP can provide real-time information.
One example is the Ogasawara Islands. They are outside the cover area of the Meteorological Agency's ground radar, and both Chichijima and Hahajima islands only have one rain gauge each.
Therefore, precipitation information provided by the GSMaP is very useful, and the town hall website uses the GSMaP. I am very pleased to see such a usage, and hope the GSMaP will be applied widely.
On May 17, heavy rain caused a major landslide in Sri Lanka, and GSMaP data was used for the indication map for precipitation conditions in the report issued by the Sri Lanka disaster control center.
Currently, users from 76 countries have registered to be able to use GSMaP, and users from 46 of those countries are public entities, including meteorological agencies.
JAXA would like to continue to engage in activities that return our achievements in space to the Earth for the benefit of our daily lives.