JAXA President Monthly Press Conference December 2016

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Naoki Okumura, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:00 p.m. on December 16 (Fri), 2016
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Yoshikazu Shoji, Director, Public Affairs Department


On December 9, cargo transporter to the International Space Station, KOUNOTORI6 was launched by H-IIB rocket, and 5 days later, docked to the International Space Station(ISS). The main cargo that KOUNOTORI6 carried was 6 ISS batteries consisting of Japanese-made lithium-ion battery cells. The transporter also brought 7 nanosat class probes, in addition to basic supplies for the ISS crew. JAXA's personnel who worked on KOUNOTORI6 launch were holding their breath, since shortly earlier on December 1, the launch of Russian Progress, also a cargo supplier to the ISS, had failed. Though KOUNOTORI6 launch success was a relief, the mission is still halfway through. JAXA sees to it that the mission will come all the way to a complete close.
KOUNOTORI6 launch attracted quite a few foreign dignitaries, among whom were the Turkish ambassador to Japan, and American and French Deputy Chiefs of Mission. NASA sent the Agency's Deputy Manager of International Space Station Program and Project Manager of the Lithium-ion Battery Project Team, to whom KOUNOTORI6's delivery of the Li-ion batteries was of great interest. Observers noted it was an impressive launch.
Last year, JAXA signed a cooperation agreement with Turkey regarding Turkey's use of the Japanese Experiment Module KIBO. KOUNOTORI6 therefore was loaded with their materials used for testing. The Turkish ambassador, after watching the launch expressed words of appreciation, which say: "I congratulate that the cooperation between the two countries has realized KIBO experiments. It is significant to see our long-standing cordial relationship blossom into something concrete, progressing the field of space technology. My hope is that the two nations will continue contributing to global development and prosperity of science and technology."
JAXA echoes the spirit of those remarks.

Updates on Astronaut Onishi

JAXA's astronaut Takuya Onishi made a brief return to Japan in November, and was headed back to Houston, USA for rehabilitation and collection of medical data. When he comes back to the county for a longer period around late December, a public platform will be provided where he gives reports on his stay aboard the ISS. Details will be available as soon as confirmed.

Astronautical Science

For the last few years in JAXA, December spells important events. About a year ago in December 2015, the orbit insertion occurred of JAXA's Venus Climate Orbiter AKATSUKI / PLANET-C. Since then, PLANET-C has kept vast records of Venus. As some space enthusiasts may recall, a fascinating phenomenon called superrotation is observed in Venus, and Akatsuki project members are eager to reveal its mechanisms. More data analysis is underway and will be compiled into publication.
2 years ago on December 3, 2014, HAYABUSA2 launched to Asteroid Ryugu. As of November 2016, the ion engine of the Explorer has been on its second term operation. JAXA expects the operation will continue sustained acceleration until May, 2017, and that HAYABUSA2 will reach Ryugu in 2018 summer. Meantime on the ground, researchers are making the one-and-a-half-year waiting period count by getting ready for publishing the mission results. A couple of international science conferences are planned.
JAXA reports another technological development that supports HAYABUSA, HAYABUSA2 missions and JAXA's other deep space studies. The parabolic antenna, 64 meters in diameter, of the Agent's Usuda Deep Space Center, Nagano, has served as Japan's only ground station for deep space investigation for over the last 3 decades. The Usuda antenna has by far exceeded its design life, and recent interplanetary missions call for highly advanced receiving performance. Therefore JAXA started construction of a new deep space research center. The site has just been developed. The completed facility will begin operation in Japanese fiscal year 2019.

JAXA in Collaboration with Space Entrepreneurial Ventures

Here are JAXA's 2 latest projects with private businesses. JAXA has concluded a memorandum of understanding with ispace, Inc., a private company that runs operations of Team HAKUTO, a Google Lunar XPRIZE Competition participant. ispace seeks to take up an economy on the Moon. JAXA gladly works hand-in-hand with them to bring to the table ideas about production and expansion of lunar mining and infrastructure industries. JAXA's New Enterprise Promotion Department initiated the undertaking. The Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center on JAXA's Sagamihara Campus too does fundamental research on the related study field, establishment of infrastructure in other celestial bodies with gravity than Earth. JAXA's expertise certainly will turn out to be a mutual asset in advancing the project.
JAXA has also entered into a memorandum of understanding with Axelspace. com, which promotes AxelGlobe, the Earth observation infrastructure consisting of 50 microsatellites. In the framework of the memorandum, JAXA provides technical assistance to Axelspace as it produces earth observation data. In return, Axelspace supplies JAXA with the data. JAXA will then utilize the data into further application. The vision of the mutually beneficial relationship thus takes shape.
The 2 new bills on Space that recently passed the Japanese Parliament have ushered in the new era where the private sector actively promotes the commercial use of the Space. The movement agrees with JAXA's basic principle, benefitting society through robust public and private relationship in aerospace exploration.