JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference November 2015

JAXA President Monthly Regular Press Conference

Date and time: From 11:00 - 11:45 a.m. on Nov. 12 (Thu.), 2015
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Shigeki Kamigaichi, JAXA Public Affairs Department Director

The Space Exploration Innovation Hub was approved as a support project by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and JAXA has constructed the inside of the Hub. We are now requesting for proposals (RFP) to collect ideas for a research theme.
As I have already informed you, JAXA’s status was changed from an “independent administrative agency” to a “national research and development agency” in April. This was not a mere title change. We have to substantially function as Japan’s core R&D organization. To bolster such a shift, the JST led actions to seek proposals how to change our conventional work style to that suitable for a national R&D agency. JAXA made a proposal as an “Open Innovation Hub construction,” which was selected, thus it has been supported by the JST since then for the next five years.
One of the main tasks of the RFP this time is to collect proposals not only from space-related companies but also from those in various other fields so that we can establish Japan’s unique space exploration technology. We have already explained it to many people and parties outside JAXA to seek their opinions. At the “request for information (RFI)” prior to the RFP this time, we received 107 suggestions. More than half of them were from non space-related companies. I felt that many companies correctly understood our objective. We are issuing the RFP to collect specific themes, and select the theme by the end of December. We plan to start research in January 2016. By taking this opportunity of my monthly press meeting, let me emphasize that your cooperation would be very much appreciated to receive as many proposals as possible. The deadline of the RFP is Nov. 25 (Wed.)

We have also asked themes for an innovative satellite technology demonstration program from the public, and received 30 proposals. JAXA will carefully examine their contents to select an appropriate one that meets our policy and program objective. We are now coordinating technical issues with those who made proposals. We hope to decide the theme by the end of this year, and will select a company who will lead the program within this fiscal year (which ends at the end of March 2016).

The return to Earth day of Astronaut Yui is slightly earlier than the original schedule, as was announced on our website. We are currently coordinating the schedule to set the date as Dec. 11. Obviously it has not been the officially decided date. We will inform you of the date once it is determined.

JAXA promotes space education while engaging in R&D activities. The “JAXA Space Education Center” has been stimulating the interests of children, students and their teachers in science through space to improve their scientific problem solving ability. We have recruited a Center Director from outside of JAXA, and, on Nov. 1, Nozomu Sakuraba was invited to the post. I will introduce him to you later. He has lengthy first-hand experience in the educational field, mainly in Hokkaido, thus is a very appropriate person to further promote our activities along with our policy. I have high expectations for him and your support will be appreciated.

The Hayabusa2’s swing-by is scheduled on Dec. 3, as I told you last month. A minor orbit correction in preparation for the swing-by was conducted on Nov. 3, and it went as planned. We will decide if we carry out another orbit correction while examining the latest orbit. The satellite is in a good shape.

The operation of the AKATSUKI is also going well while it is aiming to enter the Venus orbit on Dec. 7. Three orbit controls were performed in July. The satellite is in good health although it passed through the very harsh environment of the perihelion in August.

The X-ray Astronomy Satellite “ASTRO-H” is scheduled to be launched within this fiscal year. It is currently at the Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC) to undergo a final checkup. When it passes the test, it will be transported to Tanegashima, so we plan to hold a media day at the TKSC on Nov. 27 (Fri.) Members of the media can inspect the ASTRO-H then, and a project overview will be explained. We hope many of you will participate in the media day.

Finally, the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 29, which will be launched on Nov. 24, is steadily under preparation. It will be launched as scheduled unless any issue arises.