JAXA President Monthly Press Conference July 2018

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. on July 13 (Fri), 2018
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Yoshikazu Shoji, Director, Public Affairs Department

Restructuring within JAXA Organization

Effective July 1, two new organizations have been set up within JAXA.

One, the International Space Exploration Center. The goal is thorough promotion of international space exploration backed by JAXA’s technology and knowledge in entirety. Last January, the preparation office for the lunar exploration opened. JAXA has been preparing for participation in the international space exploration missions. At the second International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF2), ministerial-level meeting held in Tokyo last March, discussions took place on ways to build support for international cooperation in space exploration. Also JAXA’s fourth mid-long term stipulates space exploration among operational plans. The shared objective has resulted in the recent restructuring.

The Center plays a role in maximizing the international presence of Japan in future space exploration. In accordance with the Global Space Exploration Roadmap, the objectives of the Center are lunar and Mars exploration missions, including the moons of Mars. In addition to serving as a comprehensive coordination and promotion hub for entire exploration missions in JAXA, this new organization supervises the research and development of the systems for international space exploration and the Martian Moon Exploration mission (MMX) pre-projects. Based in the JAXA Tokyo office, Tsukuba Space Center and Sagamihara Campus, the International Space Exploration Center collaborates with pertinent divisions for component technologies research. Along with the instructions from the prime minister Shinzo Abe in Strategic Headquarters for Space Development convened recently, JAXA would like to use its technologies and human resources to solve problems with leading the field. Also will JAXA take the lead in consolidation of all Japanese resources. It will contribute to the realization of the country’s space exploration policies and stimulate the industry into further development.

The other new organization is the project team for the X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), to replace ASTRO-H, the X-ray astronomy satellite. Pre-project planning had been in progress. In the project transition review board held last month, the implementation system, funds, personnel plan, development timeline, risk identification and remedy measures, were assessed. The board confirmed that preventive measures are in place for minimizing the recurrence of ASTRO-H operational error. The process approved of the official project team, and it was set up as of July 1.

The importance of X-ray observation in space physics has prompted the early recovery from the ASTRO-H mission mishap. The new organizations resulting from the recent restructuring within JAXA ensure the exploration missions in cooperation of NASA, ESA, universities and others.


I attended the UNISPACE+50 held in Vienna in the week of June 18.
Organized by the Committee for the Peaceful Use of the Universe (COPUOS), the Standing Committee of the United Nations (UN), UNISPACE provided a platform to consider the future of peaceful use of space in global cooperation. COPUOS is the forum where international community adopts international treaties for the same purpose. Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the first UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, UNISPACE+50 presented a commemorative opportunity to discuss international cooperation for peaceful use of this common heritage of mankind.
On behalf of Japan, I made a statement about Japanese space activities and international cooperation at the UNISPACE+50 High-level Segment, one of the UNISPACE+50 sessions. There I reported JAXA’s initiatives at the ISEF2 in March and the capacity-building program includes KiboCUBE led by JAXA. The UNISPACE+50 High-level Segment gave me the opportunity to talk to heads of the space agencies of the Member States mainly from European countries. The Segment was attended by all 87 COPUOS Member States, all UN States Members, international space entities and non-governmental organizations entities, including 14 ministerial-level participants and 10 at the level of Head of space agencies.
The announcement was made that JAXA and The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have selected a team from the Mauritius Research Council for the third round of KiboCUBE among many applicants. JAXA and UNOOSA also signed an amendment to their Memorandum of Understanding to extend the KiboCUBE duration for three more years until March 2021. I find those a monumental achievement.

For the last three months since I took office of JAXA President, I have attended international conferences in the United States in April, Russia in May, and Europe in June to have discussions with space organizations around the world. I could meet Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator and Director Dmitry Rogozin, of ROSCOSMOS, Russian space corporation, both important top executive partners recently appointed for the job. These occasions brought me closer to them and agreed to reinforce our relations while we are in office.
JAXA’s fourth mid- and long-term plan states that "JAXA shall promote research and development in mutually beneficial relations with principle foreign space agencies based on shared interest at the top management levels through continuous strategic dialogues. This approach should help implementing future global exploration and climate change initiatives in an effective and efficient manner. I believe JAXA could succeed during the first quarter of this fiscal year in confirming the progress of the international projects and interest in future joint missions including space exploration.

Hayabusa2 Status Updates

At 9:35 am Japan Time, June 27, the asteroid explorer Hauyabusa2 rendezvoused with the target asteroid Ryugu. Images of Ryugu available at the last press release looked like a dot. Observations confirm that various sizes of craters and masses of rocks are projecting from the surface of the asteroid shaped like a spinning top.
The Hayabusa2 spacecraft is in good shape. On July 6, the MASCOT control center of DLR, German Space Center, Cologne, Germany received signals from MASCOT, Hayabusa2’s onboard lander developed by Germany and France.

Following the systems checkout phase including onboard instruments turning, Hayabusa2 is on the observation mission of the entire asteroid at its home position of approximately 20 kilometers away.
Mission Operations of any object requires constant attention. On top of that, Hayabusa2 mission has just entered the hovering operation above Ryugu, the unknown object to mankind.
To select landing sites, ample observations are required. JAXA is operating the spacecraft with attention needed to allow the mission plan to proceed. Based on the observation results, we are constructing an asteroid model and studying the surface characteristics.

This will help determine the landing sites for the explorers and landers. By the end of August, sets of multiple site candidates and then in September final landing sites will be selected. Ensuing is the operation that lowers Hayabusa2 altitude for a period, which will carry out the observations from 5 kilometers above, the mid- and high- altitude. On July 19, we will hold the briefing to report the present operations and the status of early observations. Your participation would be cordially welcomed.

SLATS Long Term Atomic Oxygen Monitoring

I will speak about the status of the atomic oxygen monitor (AMO) system installed in Tsubame (SLATS), the super low altitude test satellite launched last December. Long term, near real time observation of atomic oxygen at the very low altitude from on-orbit telemetry data is the world’s first attempt.
First, here is why observing atomic oxygen. In this particular environment, atmospheric oxygen abounds, dissociated from the atmosphere by the solar ultraviolet. High speed collisions of atmospheric oxygen against spacecraft cause deterioration of the organic surface materials, including multilayer insulation (MLI) and thermal control films laid on satellites. Understanding the influence of atomic oxygen to invent protective measures is indispensable for the future use of this orbit.

Tsubame (SLATS) is now gradually descending the altitude towards the super low altitude of 300 kilometers or lower. AO measurement succeeded on the flight trajectory of about 450 to 550 kilometers in altitude where the AO density is lower than on the target super altitude. This proves that the sensitivity of the measurement is enough. Analysis of the data is also progressing, which will hopefully offer valuable results to develop this relatively undeveloped altitude. Ongoing is comparative verification between the acquired data against AO prediction scale, used when designing satellites operated on this orbit. This will be applied to select materials for future satellites operated on the low orbit, to overhaul design standards and to acquire on-orbit nano gram measuring technology.
We will continuously operate Tsubame (SLATS) for its primary mission yet to be accomplished as it lowers to the super low altitude.

Astronaut Kanai Back to Earthly Routine

Since his return to Earth last month, Astronaut Kanai has been on a rehabilitation program and made appearance to the media at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center. Kanai is now spending time at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to reports about his long-duration ISS expedition to the NASA ground personnel in charge and to make suggestion for future missions.

Late this month, he will be back to Japan for a short time for a public occasion to report on his ISS 54/55 expedition at Hitomi Memorial Hall, Showa Women’s University on July 26. This public opportunity has been advertised on JAXA website. In the two sessions during the day time and the evening, Kanai with ground control and space test mission crews will describe the last expedition in the way easy to understand. He will also take viewers’ /audience’s questions. The final part of the evening program is themed “Future Crewed Space Activities”, where discussions will take place on possibilities of human missions, such as developments of Earth’s low orbit, lunar exploration, topics that Kanai can best address with his expedition. JAXA is holding a press briefing in the JAXA Tokyo Office on July 30 and allows interview opportunities by individual media. Details will be informed today. Your attendance is cordially welcomed.

Media Viewing Opportunities of Spacecraft to be Launched

JAXA schedules two flagship launches from the Tanegashima Space Center and one from the Uchinoura Space Center for the rest of this fiscal year through March 2019.
Earlier, a press release was issued to inform September 11 launch of H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 7 with the cargo transporter Kounotori (HTV7) to the ISS. Please refer to the release for the launch time and other information.

HTV7 delivers about 6.2 tons, the most weight ever, supplies to the International Space Station. The HTV7 cargo includes tall cabinets for NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) to house test equipment, a return capsule and astronaut gear, in addition to fresh Japanese food, to be selected early August. The sample collection capsule onboard HTV7 is targeted to demonstrate several sample collection technologies. One is that which produces a lift during descent, to control the flight to the landing site and to protect the content stored in the sample canister. Lift, the force directed perpendicular to the flow direction of an object should help control the acceleration of gravity of the capsule and, as a result, of the sample during descent. Another target technological verification is light weight thermal protection by the world-class low-density ablator produced in Japan. The ablator on the base serves as aeroshield and protects the capsule from high temperature during atmospheric reentry. The sample return from the ISS will, if successful, become the first mission accomplished by Japan.
On July 28, JAXA will provide an opportunity for the media to view HTV7 with the equipment aboard at the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center. This will be the last time to view the cargo transporter on Earth. GOSAT-2 press briefing is also scheduled for late July. This second Greenhouse Gases Observation Satellite launched aboard H-IIA No. 40 will also be shown to the press at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center early August and then at the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center late August. More will come out later. JAXA will be pleased with a large media turnout.