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International Cooperation Broadens Potential of Space Utilization

Q. Could you tell us about JAXA’s international cooperation?

President Tachikawa speaking at the Heads of Agency Plenary Session at the International Astronautical Congress
President Tachikawa speaking at the Heads of Agency Plenary Session at the International Astronautical Congress

With the desire to contribute to the world through successful outcomes in Japanese space development, we facilitate international cooperation, especially with Asian countries. As an advanced country in space technology, we would like to be of more help to people in Asia, and as part of this, we have led the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF). Under the APRSAF umbrella, a disaster monitoring system, Sentinel Asia, was established four years ago. Asia experiences many natural disasters, so the purpose of Sentinel Asia is to monitor the status of disasters using satellites, to facilitate fast and efficient response. The Japanese Advanced Land Observing Satellite DAICHI (ALOS) was the only participating satellite at first, but later, Earth observation satellites from India, Thailand and Korea joined as well. The more disaster monitoring satellites we have, the more quickly we can provide accurate data. This satellite data is released on the Internet, so people in the afflicted countries can have easier access to information.
Last year we also launched the STAR (Satellite Technology for the Asia-Pacific Region) program, which aims to develop human resources in the domain of space development. The program has brought scientists and engineers from Asian countries - such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Korea - to JAXA’s Sagamihara Campus, where they are developing small satellites. If each Asian country becomes capable of building satellites that can be used for Earth monitoring, I expect this will be a great contribution to disaster monitoring.
In addition, we started the SAFE project to encourage cooperation among Asian countries on global environmental issues. SAFE stands for Satellite Application For Environment, and its purpose is to apply a satellite system to the environmental issues each country faces. Last year, we built a trial forest-resources management system using Vietnamese satellite data. This year, we hope to continue to expand the range of satellites applications. It is important to advance environmental management throughout the Asian region, not only by launching new satellites but also through the efficient use of existing ones.
These are examples of our international-cooperation efforts in the Asian region. But of course natural disasters occur in the rest of the world too, and therefore the demand for satellite applications is increasing around the globe. Last year JAXA signed a collaboration agreement for satellite applications with Germany and Italy, so I expect that our international cooperation in 2010 will be even stronger. I think space activity is a domain that involves the most sophisticated international cooperation. JAXA will continue to be proactive in this field.

Related Link: International Cooperation

Aerospace Development Needs Public Understanding

Q. What does JAXA do to inform the general public of the need for aerospace development?

Information Center JAXA i
Information Center JAXA i
The 40th JAXA Town Hall Meeting was held in Oita in October 2009
The 40th JAXA Town Hall Meeting was held in Oita in October 2009

JAXA’s work on aerospace development cannot proceed without public understanding; therefore it is very important to inform the public about our operations. Let me introduce some of our campaigns.
First, we hold JAXA Town Hall meetings, where the public is invited to learn about our operations and to give us opinions. Last year, 11 Town Halls were held across Japan. We also host a JAXA Symposium to provide information. Furthermore, when an astronaut has returned to Earth, public meetings are held to provide updates on our space activity, combined with the astronaut’s mission report. Also, JAXA staff give lectures to the general public.
Secondly, we release information via our official website. I think this is a very effective means, as we had more than 8 million page views every month last year. Public interest grows whenever there is a rocket launch, so we broadcast it live on our website.
Third, we have exhibitions that are open to the public. In Tokyo we have the JAXA i information center; and every JAXA facility, such as the Tsukuba Space Center and the Tanegashima Space Center, also has a public exhibition space. To encourage people to learn about our operations, we have special open house days for families. Last year, our exhibition facilities had about 530,000 visitors in total.
Apart from these PR activities, we run nationwide campaigns through our Space Education Center, with the aim of introducing space development in the classroom. For instance, we support and collaborate with school teachers to create lessons around space, and we hold Space School and Cosmic College to teach children about space. We also train instructors to perform as children’s leaders at our public sites. At the Space Education Center, educational support is provided to about 1,500 teachers and volunteer instructors every year.
We have a chance to hear from the public through questionnaires collected on special open house days and at lectures. Most opinions are positive, as people are pleased by the progress Japan has made to date. Looking at our rocket launch capability, the majority are under the impression that Japan is in the world’s top five in space technology, and hope that Japan will maintain and enhance its position. We were also very encouraged last year to receive great compliments from the public on the successes of KAGUYA and HTV. We can hear the public voice via our official website as well. JAXA will continue our efforts to make achievements that meet the public’s expectations.

Related Link: Tours and Exhibits
  Space Education Center

Playing a Role as a Research and Development Organization

Q. What are your resolutions for 2010?

In order to enhance the field of aerospace in Japan, I would like to bring as much visibility as possible to JAXA’s achievements. Particularly in the realm of human space activity, I think it’s essential that we maximize results now that the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo is complete. I would like to ensure that we address each project systematically, achieve good results, and release them quickly and smoothly.
At the same time, as a research and development organization, we must focus on potential new technologies. This is also very important for the next generation. There are many technologies that will be essential in the future. One of them is a new transport system, and one of our top priorities is to develop spacecraft to return space-based experiment samples to Earth. We would also like to start looking into the development of a space plane, which will be useful for space transportation in the future. As for satellites, outcomes of missions can be applied in many different directions. To expand satellite applications, we need to be able to provide various types of information, which requires many different types of sensors. Satellite applications can expand when new sensors are developed, so I would like to promote instrument development as well. JAXA hopes to plant the seeds of new research that will benefit life in the future.

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