JAXA President Monthly Press Conference June 2018

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. on June 8 (Fri), 2018
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Yoshikazu Shoji, Director, Public Affairs Department

Astronaut Kanai Returns

Astronaut Kanai returned to Earth safely from the International Space Station (ISS) on June 3, last week. May media coverage and reports abound of his 168-day long activity from the launch to returning home, includes his experiments conducted in the Japanese Kibo module aboard the ISS. This shows his missions drew quite an attention of Japanese people.
Also, large crews of the press showed up at the landing site, for which I am grateful.

Both personally and on behalf of JAXA, I am very pleased with his missions and safe return. In accordance with his mission theme "Discovering clues about health longevity in space. ", he ensured the execution of numerous experiments, among which is the growth of amyloid fibril. In addition, the 2nd International Space Exploration Forum communicated with all three astronauts from Japan, Russia and the United States on his expedition. So did the Russian cosmonaut from the ISS with Russian Prime Minister from the Kremlin, Moscow during the Japan-Russia Summit. It illustrates that the ISS is wonderful example of international cooperation and that it plays an important role in space diplomacy.

Another real-time communication event was held connecting Cosmonaut Shukaprelof with Russian and Japanese children living in Japan. Shortly before Kanai’s return to Earth, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) and Fukushima, stricken by the Great East Japan Earthquake were connected with the ISS. The communication event offered the platform where the Minister Yoshino for Reconstruction and Minister Hayashi of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and children from Fukushima communicated with the ISS. These events impressed me that the ISS missions certainly contribute to the developments of human resources.

Astronaut Kanai currently is staying at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, the United States, subject to medical examinations and rehabilitation to return to daily earthly life. His recovery is on track, posing no problem to go back to normal. Reportedly, his rehabilitation is helping him with recovery day by day.
He is flying back to Japan shortly. Based on the early rehabilitation program, his rehabilitation updates at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center will be shown to the public on June 15. Also, in late July, Kanai will have the opportunity to report his long-term ISS expedition.
We will inform you when details are decided, so please join us.

Announcement of Opportunity to Co-Create Commercial Opportunities to Utilize Low Earth Orbit

Next, let me introduce JAXA’S initiative to co-create of businesses opportunities that use on the utilization of low Earth orbit (LEO), including the International Space Station (ISS).
As was already announced, on May 29, JAXA has selected to SpaceBD Co., Ltd. and Mitsui & Co., Ltd., as small satellite launch services providers.

JAXA also wishes to further privatize the use of Kibo and to develop the LEO to accommodate full-fledged, sustainable economic activities that private enterprises and others engage in. For the first time, the program invites them to make proposals regarding ways to utilize human bases using LEO such as Kibo, ISS which JAXA manages and operates. This will be conducted as a part of the program started “Space Innovation Partnership (J-Spark)" where JAXA walks with private enterprises and other participants, right from planning all the way through.

For more information, refer to the press release issued at 1 pm today(*Japanese only).

In recent years, private businesses have examined services targeted at individual consumers regarding food, shelter and clothing necessary for space travel. By means of this AO, we are continuously working on utilization of Kibo while accepting wide range of future business ideas, including partnering in development and demonstration of proposals.

It is JAXA’s desire to walk side by side with its partners to promote the commercial use of the LEO with a view to the growth of industries and the expansion of space use. For that purpose, JAXA will make available technological assets and expertise, among which is the experience that has operated Kibo for over a decade.

I appreciate the responsive reaction to J-Spark since it was announced a month ago. We have received many inquiries from space businesses and others alike. The AO issued this time as part of J-Spark was business creation for human activities in the LEO. In the future, we will propose AO on other specific themes. We would be pleased if you could pay attention to future J-Spark projects.

Status of Type #2 LE-9 Engine Firing Tests

JAXA launched the H3 development project in 2014 and ever since has worked toward the goal to promote developments of the rockets that lay the foundation for the next generation rockets. The project is also aimed at expansion of Japan’s autonomous launch capabilities and strengthening the international competitiveness of the country’s launch services. The H3 development is one of a kind – JAXA selects the private contractors, who are involved in making requests, setting specifications and planning for the future commercialization of the launch vehicle that they will develop. The objective is clear right from the beginning of the development, namely, to keep focused on future commercialization at the launch vehicle’s operational stage.

The H3 launch vehicle, with 4-ton payload capacity to the solar synchronous orbit and 6.5-ton to the geostationary transfer orbit, is the world class rocket. It excels both in reliability, cost and services. JAXA has also worked on reducing the lead time so the H3 rocket will need a shorter period of time from the order to launch.
With the goal of the first test H3 launch from Tanegashima Space Center in Japanese fiscal 2020, JAXA has taken up the development of LE-9, H3’s first stage engine since Japanese fiscal 2014. Last year, the firing tests of LE-9 started.

Prior to the firing tests of the entire LE-9 as a system, unit tests of the turbo pumps were conducted at the JAXA Kakuda Space Center. Turbo pumps are one of the most important engine components as they rotate at high speed to feed a large amount of fuel to the combustors. The results confirmed that the turbo pumps measure up to their function, performance and strength as designed.

Since 2017, at the liquid engine test site of Tanegashima Space Center, the firing tests are underway of the LE-9 engine built with the turbo pumps whose capabilities have been confirmed. Currently, based on the first series of the test results, the second LE-9 test has been carried out. Most recently on May 27 a record burning time was set when the combustion lasted for 275 seconds, almost as long as the actual firing time at launch.

On June 24, the LE-9 firing test will be shown to the members of the media. It will be a rare opportunity, since the LE-7A engine was last developed almost a decade ago. Please visit Tanegashima Space Center.

MIO – MMO Has Been Given a New Name

JAXA selected MIO from some 6,500 responses to the naming project for MMO, Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter. In February 2018, JAXA announced the project to attract public interest to the MMO, one of the spacecraft JAXA operates on the major Japan-Europe Mercury exploration mission BepiColombo.

MIO has been selected for the following reasons:
The definition of the word mio in the original Japanese is a waterway or fairway. It is a fitting name denoting how far the MMO mission has come, navigating its course past important research and development milestones. It also carries the connotation of wishing the spacecraft a safe journey. Historically, markers called mio-tsukushi were posted to guide boats sailing at rivers and sea. In traditional Japanese poetry, mio-tsukushi interchangeably means to devote oneself to something. This describes the diligent and tenacious sprit of the MMO project team who never ceases to challenge.

Refer to the press release to be issued today for details.

Latest Updates on Hayabusa2

As was informed at the press briefing held yesterday, Hayabusa2 is in good condition and in good operational status. On Sunday, June 3, the ion engines onboard the spacecraft completed their outbound operation. Currently, Hayabusa2 is on flight approximately 2,000 kilometers away from the asteroid Ryugu. Optical navigation of the cameras installed in Hayabusa2 enable us to determine accurate orbits of the spacecraft and the asteroid. Expected time of rendezvous with Ryugu is around June 27.

We believe next week the optical navigation camera will capture Ryugu’s diameter in 10 pixels. The week after, the pixel size will exceed 100, showing clearer images of the asteroid.
Following June 14, JAXA will regularly hold press briefings. We will also invite the media to the press center in the JAXA Sagamihara campus to continue informing them on the future major events. We hope Hayabusa2 will continuously attract attention.

Dr. Koichi Wakata Appointed as New Vise President

Following Vice President Nakamura and Vice President Sano introduced in the previous monthly conferences, I would like to introduce Vice President, Dr. Koichi Wakata. This will be the last Vise President announcement of all four new appointment effective April 1. Vice President Dr. Wakata will be the Director General of the Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate and the Space Exploration Innovation Hub. I will let him give you a few words later.