JAXA President Monthly Press Conference April 2017

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Naoki Okumura, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:00 p.m. on April 7 (Fri), 2017
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Yoshikazu Shoji, Director, Public Affairs Department

April, New Japanese Fiscal Year Starts

This April marks the beginning of the final year of the current term of JAXA's mid-term plan. JAXA has thus far pursued its projects in harmony with Japanese government's Basic Space Plan. In the meantime, significant political changes occurred. For one, JAXA became National Research and Development Agency. Last year, in addition, the Japanese Diet passed The New Space Activities Act and The Satellite Remote-Sensing Act, collectively called The Two Space Acts. These changing circumstances put JAXA in new environment. Throughout this fiscal year, JAXA will focus its attention on wrapping up the ongoing projects and implementing the next mid-term plan.
JAXA has also led organizational management reform, which I have not yet disclose details. The reform strategizes and reinforces the management structure within the budgetary and human resources constraints. Previously we employed the branch based business structure. The reform has centralized the space businesses, allowing multiple departments to work together. For instance, in the past, functions of research and development existed in each section, which have been replaced with one body. This united body governs all of JAXA's research and development activities. The new strategic structure creates cross-departmental operation. The fledgling reform has already yielded some positive results. I will continue to lead the management reform. On behalf of JAXA, I express my appreciation for the support and the understanding by all.

Board Appointments

Two new board members were appointed on April 1. Vice President Hiroshi Tsuboi, in charge of the head office management including General Affairs, Human Resources and Financial departments, and Vice President Yasuhiro Funo, of Space Technology Directorate I and other duties. The appointments were made partly due to the change of duties of Vice President Shizuo Yamamoto, who formerly supervised Space Technology Directorate I, and now does Strategic Planning and Management, International Relations and Research departments. More information is available on our website. The board members, both new and reelected, are responsible for formulating the next mid-term plan. I, President of JAXA expect that the new board will do a great job.

SS-520 Relaunch Attempt

In the previous briefing, I mentioned JAXA's intentions of retrying SS-520 launch. Today I gladly announce that SS-520 will relaunch. The decision results from a consensus among the Ministries and the private businesses involved. In this world where science advances rapidly, JAXA believes SS-520, with significant scientific missions, should fly as soon as possible. Relaunch requires thorough review on the last failure, countermeasures, and analysis of potential challenges and verification. JAXA, using all its technology earnestly seeks to learn from the failure and to retry by the end of this fiscal year.

ARASE Updates

On March 24, JAXA confirmed completion of the commissioning phase of ARASE, an exploration satellite of energization and radiation in Geospace. ARASE has entered its science operations phase. Since launched on December 20, 2016, ARASE has been in good shape, with all of its monitoring equipment functioning as anticipated. Full-scale observation has begun.
ARASE's primary mission is deepening the understanding of the Van Allen belts. JAXA, in close cooperation with other space agencies and educational institutions around the world, hopes to accomplish the mission. In particular, working with Van Allen Probes launched by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) a few years ago will help reveal the nature of the radiation belts.
Van Allen belts still hold basic scientific mysteries; how the radiation belts are generated with highly charged particles, and what causes space storms. I hope data from ARASE will shed light on the unknown. JAXA will gladly inform further updates.

Engineering Test Satellite Ⅸ Project

Engineering Test Satellite-Ⅸ project just took off this month. Hereafter development will be in full swing. Compared to that of other satellites, the process of Engineering Test Satellite Ⅸ is unique; JAXA maintains the clear vision of future competitiveness of the complete product in the potential market. Prior to launch of the project, JAXA sought for a project partner who agrees with and shares the vision. In the process JAXA weighs in on the intentions of the partner regarding the design and the specifications of the satellite. JAXA tried this approach on the R&D of H3 launch vehicle. We will do our best to make success the Engineering Test Satellite-Ⅸ project. It will prove the competitiveness of future satellites developed in like manner.
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. has been selected as principle partner on this project. The power source of the complete satellite will rely solely on electricity. It requires high power Hall thrusters. JAXA and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation are planning to realize domestic production of such thrusters and GPS transmitters onboard the satellite. JAXA meets other unprecedented challenges head-on. We are looking at 25 kW class input power. Our engineering design process involves a set of double-axis solar array wings, which will be deployed horizontally and vertically. It will never be an easy mission but must be accomplished, given the significance of future application. The endeavor, if successful, will perhaps set a new world standard. JAXA is fully up to the task.