JAXA President Monthly Press Conference September 2018

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 2:30 - 3:15 p.m. on September 18 (Tue), 2018
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department

The HTV 7 Launch

The H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 7 was scheduled for September 15, but was cancelled as an error was found in one of the vent relief valves attached to the liquid oxygen tank of the second stage. Investigation began on the same day, when Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) had the valve brought back to their assembly factory. The investigation is ongoing. Therefore, we have not been able to update the launch date.
As of today, the airframe of the HTV aboard the H-IIB No. 7 has been confirmed as sound.
For a successful H-IIB No. 7 launch, JAXA will review MHI’s investigation results and corrective measures. No effort will be spared to supervise a safe launch, the responsibility that JAXA bears.

Emergency Use of Daichi-2 in Response to the Hokkaido East Iburi area Earthquake

I express my heartfelt condolences to those who are afflicted by the Hokkaido Earthquake that broke out last week. Reports are in that it originated from the mid and east Iburi, Hokkaido.

In response to the government’s request made on the day of the Earthquake, JAXA has begun the emergency monitoring of the disaster stricken area using PALSAR-2, the synthetic aperture radar of the Daichi-2 satellite. This helps grasp the situation. Analysis results of images from the satellite indicate that the Earthquake triggered multiple landslides in the region. The satellite data also confirms layers of soil caused by the landslides and significant crustal movements. JAXA provides observation data from Daichi-2 relevant ministries, agencies, and organizations which deal with natural disasters, including the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Geographical Survey Institute, the National Land Technology Policy Research Institute, and Disaster Prevention Science Research Institute.

JAXA will continue to support their work through satellite remote sensing. JAXA wishes to contribute to a speedy recovery of the disaster stricken area.

Budget Request for JFY 2019

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) made a ¥198.5 billion budget request for Japanese fiscal 2019 on the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

This includes the expense of H3 launch vehicle development to carry out its first test launch scheduled for the fiscal 2020. Part of the budget will be allocated to develop Japanese Data Relay System, slated for the fiscal 2019 launch. Both were funded in the last fiscal year, too.

In addition to these important ongoing projects, the budget requests to fund national security, disaster relief, and the frontier development in space science and other area. All these are part of the agenda of JAXA’s fourth mid- to long-term objectives. I would like to expand on important ones;

First, space debris is a serious issue that must be solved if we are to sustain space development. Globally, however, no progressive initiative is in place to tackle this problem. JAXA sees the need to act proactively. To do so, JAXA is endeavoring to forerun in the technological development. The budget reckons with an additional ¥600 million section to develop the world’s first technology that demonstrates mitigation of space debris.

Second, the budget requests a new section reckoning almost \100 million for research on a reusable space transportation system, the subject that I will come back to later. This would fund preparations for flight tests to validate a reuse of the rocket’s first stage.

Third, the budget requests \2 billion to frontload the MMX, the Martian Moons eXploration, the mission that JAXA intends to focus more on. The allocation would make a step forward from the current research and development state to frontloading. The MMX is a highly challenging project, but frontloading it could make the relevant key technology mature, ready to deal with critically technical issues in advance. The activity takes place prior to an actual project implementation so it helps prevent setbacks once the project takes off.
Lastly in aeronautical technology, around \4 billion budget requests, almost \700 million increase from the last fiscal year, to ensure the technical demonstration of core engine.

Fully conscious of our obligations and responsibilities in accordance with the Basic Plan on Space Policy and JAXA’s fourth mid-to long-term objectives, JAXA is committed to the promotion of research and development to satisfy the expectations of Japanese citizens. We appreciate and look forward to your continued understanding and support.

The Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstoration-1

One last launch left for this fiscal year is the first launch of the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration program aboard the Epsilon-4 from the JAXA Uchinoura Space Center.

One of the four policies of JAXA’s mid-to long-term plans is the expansion of the use of space and promotion of the industries. I have high hopes that this innovative satellite technology demonstration program will lower the threshold of the use of space, blooming Japanese space industry.

The purpose of this program is enlarging the community of new participants in the space industry. To that end, JAXA makes opportunities available for developers of instruments, parts, small satellites and CubeSats from private businesses and universities to demonstrate their technologies. No other opportunities are presented in the country to test on orbit individual parts and components that signify Japanese technological excellence, not just complete satellites.
Those wishing to have their technology demonstrated could even simply apply by providing a single screw or a circuit board that they develop; JAXA will offer electrical and remote control capabilities needed for loading and orbital demonstration. Seven demonstration instruments comprised of a part and six components are installed in RAPIS-1(RAPid Innovative payload demonstration Satellite 1) to be launched.

JAXA takes applications for the program throughout the year and plans for the launch opportunity for Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration program every two years. The coming launch will serve as technological demonstration for JAXA, too, as it will carry aboard the PAPIS-1 solar array deployment mechanisms of satellites and explorers, components that JAXA has developed.

Other payloads are three small satellites, three CubeSats. One of the three small satellites is a demonstrative satellite designed to create artificial meteor showers. It aims to establish entertainment as new genre of the use of space.

For development of RAPIS-1 satellite and ground operations system, JAXA has selected Axelspace Corporation as the contractor. Unlike other “corporate giant” satellite development contractors that JAXA has dealt with thus far, Axelspace Corporation is a startup funded by venture capital.

In October, plans are being made to show the RAPIS-1 satellite to the media at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center. More information will come later.

Reusable Space Transportation System

As reported to the Committee on Space Development and Utilization on August 2, JAXA is progressively advancing research to reuse the first stage of launch vehicles, so as to reduce the cost of future space transportation. This research will help establish a reusable space transportation means.

The experiment operations are conducted in two phases. The first phase consists of a flight test of small test vehicle called RV-X, which embodies the technologies that JAXA has acquired. Consolidation of research results are used to produce RV-X. A reusable engine has been developed mainly by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science. RV-X will be flight tested at the altitude of 100 meters at the Noshiro Rocket Testing Center. Data from the fight test will be processed to check the guidance control technique of the plane’s landing phase and to evaluate the characteristics of its reused engine. On September 5, ground firing tests of the reused engine were conducted, yielding the anticipated data. Attempts are being made to demonstrate experimental flights by the end of the current fiscal year.

The second phase involves the CNES (the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales; the National Centre for Space Studies) and the DLR. (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; the German Aerospace Center) The two agencies and JAXA will use RV-X’s engine and develop the experimental plane CALLISTO, Cooperative Action Leading to Launcher Innovation for Stage Toss-back Operation. This phase also includes operating the CALLISTO flight sequence for reuse the first stage of the rocket, where the reused engine is tested at launch, guidance to the landing site through landing.

JAXA develops the reused engine, which needs to withstand an additional amount of load due to reuse. Additionally, building the guidance control software and working on the airframe integration are in JAXA’s domain. Conceptual design of this project is done internationally with the CNES and the DLR. By the end of fiscal 2018, JAXA will assess the results of the design concept and budgetary status, which determine whether to proceed with the development of the experimental plane.

JAXA is promoting the research of the internationally competitive reusable space transportation system, in view of next generation space transportation technology beyond the H3 rockets.

Hayabusa2 Updates

On September 11 through 12, a touchdown rehearsal was conducted where the Hayabusa2 spacecraft descended within 800 meters of the surface of Ryugu, the target asteroid for the first time. It was done to confirm the operation of the spacecraft that will touch down the asteroid and to obtain close-up images of the possible touchdown spots for safety.

The rehearsal would bring Hayabusa2 down to 40 meters or so above the possible touchdown spots and back up. The rehearsal operation aborted at an altitude of about 600 meters after the laser altimeter called LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) had trouble detecting reflections from Ryugu’s very dark surface. This seemed to have happened when the LIDAR switched from long to short distance mode. The team will adjust parameters and give it another try at the next “touchdown 1 rehearsal 2” operation scheduled for mid-October. JAXA will review the ensuing operational results.

Also, on September 20 through 21, JAXA will operate Hayabusa2 to separate and send its onboard robotic explorers MINERVA-II to the surface of Ryugu. During this operation, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft descends approximately within 50 meters (the actual altitude is yet to be seen) of the asteroid, where a pair of robots are deployed at the same time. The robots, which hop on and survey the asteroid’s surface will, if successful, be the world’s first moving robots that observe on any small celestial bodies. Similar attempts failed by MINERVA aboard Hayabusa. JAXA will also operate Hayabusa2 to separate the lander MASCOT in early October as planned.

JAXA is undertaking collaborative research with the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) to visualize the motions of Hayabusa2 in Super Hi-Vision. The goal is employing visualized images to operate explorers in the future.
A compatible format of real time CG technology with the 8K Ultra High Definition provided by NHK has been combined with JAXA’s publicly available Hayabusa2 data. Resulting images of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft as it moves closer to Ryugu deliver extremely high definition which even captures the reflection of the Sun, as if viewed close up.

Here are some images of Hayabusa2 created from the “touchdown 1 rehearsal 1” conducted this week. These images are made available to the public for the first time today.

The 4th RFP for the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center

JAXA is promoting the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center with the support of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). The Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center promotes collaborative research with private enterprises. The objective is both to develop the technology necessary to explore the Moon, Mars, and other bodies and to create business innovation on Earth.

So far, the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center has made the requests for proposals three times and has adopted 54 joint research projects. 32 projects have been completed, and 22 are ongoing with 48 companies and other groups.

In terms of human resources, for the last three years, the size of workforce of the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center has been equivalent to 400 employees. Among them are about 80 employees from other departments within JAXA, of JST and other organizations as well as 30 employees of the Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center. Some personnel are cross appointed. Added to them are researchers and engineers from the private companies.

The fourth round of RFP was made March through May 2018. JAXA has reviewed to the applications. Today we will announce the results on our website. Out of 57 applications, we selected 22 requests; 8 in the category of problem-solving, 12 of ideas, and 2 of TansaX challenge research. The new feature of this fourth RFP is the category of TansaX challenge research. This calls for systemization or combination of individual technologies and other unique ideas. As a result of this addition, the selected applications represent companies that engage in wider range of businesses.
Implementation of research plans with the selected applicants will ensue, which will start collaborative research shortly.