JAXA President Monthly Press Conference October 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 October 12 (Fri), 2018
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department

Opening Remarks

Today, JAXA Astronaut Norishige Kanai and I paid an honorary visit to Masahiko Shibayama, the new Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The press covering the visit asked me about Soyuz 56S spacecraft malfunction a few minutes into launch yesterday, forcing American crew and Russian cosmonaut to execute an emergency abort and an evacuation return to Earth in Soyuz's descent module. I am relieved to learn that both astronauts returned safely.
Russia will conduct an investigation into the cause of the incident. I find it important that a proper measure of action taken by Russia ensue in cooperation with all International Space Station partners.
JAXA continues to collect accurate updates on the situation and to work in cooperation with its partners.

International Astronautical Congress 2018 (IAC 2018)

I attended the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held October 1 to 5, in Bremen, Germany.
This year, the IAC brought together more than 6,500 delegates from space organizations, academia and industries representing 83 nations, marking the record high attendance. Along with NASA administrator, ESA Director General, and the Chair of the DLR (German Aerospace Center) executive board, I participated in the panel discussion. The IAC also gave me the opportunity to have bilateral meetings with many heads of space agencies. This was my first time to meet the chief executives of the Australian Space Agency and the United Kingdom Space Agency. I believe we could build trust on a personal level.
Other delegates from Japan were JAXA Astronaut Takuya Onishi, and Naoto Matsuura, Senior Chief Officer of Satellite Applications, who both spoke at the plenary session, and JAXA Vice President Koichi Wakata, who spoke at several sessions which feature human spaceflight.
While the IAC 2018 was in session, major events on the Hayabusa2 mission took place -- the separation of MASCOT, the asteroid lander produced by DLR and CNES, (French National Centre for Space Studies) and landing onto the target asteroid Ryugu. The timing at which those events happened attracted the interest of many. The Chair of the DLR executive board and the CNES President announced the successful operation of MASCOT separation at the press conference held on the day of the event.
Another significant announcement made during the IAC 2018 was a CNES-DLR-JAXA joint statement on the MMX, the Martian Moon eXploration mission. In the statement, CNES and DLR will design and produce together a small lander to be used for this JAXA-led mission.
JAXA and NASA, too, signed a memorandum of understanding on the XRISM, X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission.
At the media briefing during the IAC 2018, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and JAXA announced the fourth round of KiboCUBE, the United Nations-Japan Cooperation Programme on CubeSat Deployment from Japanese KIBO module of the International Space Station.
Our participation and statements made JAXA's presence felt during the IAC 2018.

Progress on the Space Science Exploration Missions

(1) Hayabusa2

Since last month press conference, Hayabusa2 mission has progressed greatly. As many presents are aware of, Hayabusa2 successfully operated to separate and send its onboard robots MINERVA-II1 to the surface of the target asteroid.
To deploy MINERVA-II1, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft descended to 55 meters above the asteroid Ryugu. Both MINERVA-II1 robots started bouncing around the surface to explore the asteroid and sending many images in incredible detail. A similar attempt in 2014 to land MINERVA onto an asteroid failed. Therefore, this successful deployment of a moving robot for observations on a small body is the world's first achievement.
Additionally, as brought out earlier, the MASCOT lander released during the IAC successfully was brought down onto Ryugu. DLR reports that since deployment, MASCOT was operational for 17 hours, during which the lander sent all of the collected data to the Hayabusa2 mothership. MASCOT finished its operation on October 4, according to DLR. The acquired data has been transmitted to the MASCOT team in Germany. DLR will announce the mission results for the first time today, October 12.
At the press briefing held yesterday, JAXA explained the objectives of both the rehearsals of, and the touchdown operation of Hayabusa2. The first Hayabusa2 touch down is scheduled for no sooner than January next year. This time frame is based on the navigation guidance during descent that JAXA has operated thus far and on the observation data of the surface of Ryugu. Following the two touchdown rehearsals scheduled for this month, in November thorough December, JAXA makes plans for the Hayabusa2 operation schedule beyond the point of January 2019. We will make sure to proceed meticulously for the touchdown scheduled for next year.

(2) The BepiColombo Launch

BepiColombo, a leading Japan-Europe mission to Mercury will launch aboard Ariane 5 at 10:45 am, October 20 in Japan Time from the Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana.
Last month, JAXA's MIO, Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter and the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO), developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) were affixed in their launch configuration. The European science orbiter and transport module have been loaded with propellants. The spacecraft has now been ready for launch when the propellant module was connected both mechanically and electrically, which has brought us to the final stages of the launch preparations.
This month, final preparations are in full swing – The rocket fairing is being assembled, the orbiters are loaded onto the rocket, the interface is bonding the payload with the rocket, and the multilayer insulation is being installed. This month the rocket fairing has been assembled.
A team of operators and researchers are at the ESA mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany, as well as in the Guiana Space Centre, getting ready for the operations of the orbiters.
The mission objective of JAXA's MIO is, examining closely how Mercury's magnetic field, magnetosphere, and extremely thin atmosphere interact with the solar wind. ESA's MPO focuses more on the planet of Mercury itself, measuring the topography of its surface and mineral and chemical composition. The joint operation of the two orbiters are expected to elucidate how the solar wind interacts with the environment and surface of the planet.
At launch, the media center will open here in the presentation room. Dr. Fujimoto, Deputy Director General of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), and Dr. Kubota, Research Director of ISAS will provide technical commentary during the launch coverage uploaded by ESA with Japanese translation. We will also take questions about BepiColombo from the audience. JAXA invites a large turnout at this weekend event.

IBUKI-2 Launch aboard H-IIA No. 40

We issued a press release announcing the October 29 launch of IBUKI-2(Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite-2: GOSAT-2) aboard H-IIA No. 40 Launch Vehicle from the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center. Earlier on September 2, the satellite was shown to the press at the Tanegashima Space Center. IBUKI-2 is a joint project by three organizations: Japanese Ministry of Environment (MOE), National Institute of Environmental Studies, Japan (NIES), and JAXA. IBUKI-2 is the successor of the IBUKI satellite which was launched in 2009. IBUKI is the world's first dedicated to measuring global greenhouse gases.
The three organizations took up the IBUKI-2 development in 2014 and the completed satellite is equipped with the global greenhouse gases observation sensors that by far surpass the measuring sensitivity of the counterpart instruments aboard IBUKI. Carbon dioxide monitoring sensitivity has been enhanced eight times and methane, seven times.
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation is the prime maker that designed and built IBUKI-2.
Now the Paris Agreement has been signed, the international framework that seeks, among other things, to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. Global community must explore ways to control emissions. To that end, it is imperative to accurately measure them and to locate their sources.
Besides carbon dioxide and methane, the science instrument installed in IBUKI-2 monitors carbon monoxide. With this improvement brought to IBUKI-2 science instruments, we seek to acquire data that contributes to the estimation of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.
Additionally, when used to implement policies that limit the magnitude of global warming, global emission data needs to attain to a considerable level of accuracy. No single satellite could serve that purpose. Rather, space agencies around the world should cooperatively enhance the quality of greenhouse gases observation data from each satellite they operate as well as eliminate the discrepancy between the satellites and unify the products they produce. This is the approach that JAXA and NIES take; we made agreements with NASA, ESA, CNES, DLR and other space agencies around the world to correct the data discrepancy and to make the products more uniform. We will provide IBUKI-2 observation data to pertinent organizations as agreed upon, ensuing the mutual data calibration and verification. JAXA intends to release the IBUKI-2 data to the public, one year into launch.
The IBUKI-2 has been loaded with propellants and other operations are on schedule to mate the payload to the launch vehicle.

Investigation Updates on JAXA Former Director General Bribery Case

At the September regular press conference, I refrained from elaborating on the case, as it was then an ongoing investigation. Since the investigation has made some progress, I will present to you the updates as far as I can tell.
In response to indictment of Kazuaki Kawabata on August 15, a former JAXA vice president, as announced at our official website, JAXA assembled an investigation team on the same day. The team is mandated to identify the problem in the management of the Agency and examine ways to improve the operation within the Agency to root out bribery.
The investigation team is independent of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which also put together an investigation team to look into the ethics of the ministry's executive personnel on August 15.
The investigation team, led by JAXA Vice President Suzuki, is composed of the general auditor, director generals of the Strategic Planning and Management Department and the Personnel Department, and two outside lawyers.
The team has met four times and what they have discussed thus far is summarized as follows.
The objects of investigation by the teams are (1) whether mismanagement exists within the JAXA, and (2) JAXA's compliance with the laws and regulations. Regarding (1), the investigation is underway to get to the bottom of the quid pro quo that Kawabata allegedly facilitated, and to examine if JAXA's management and execution of duties are in the clear.
Besides the two charges that Kawabata is already indicted upon, the investigation includes the following four other cases that have been reported by the media;
①Dispatch of an astronaut to a lecture held by Tokyo Medical University to commemorate its 100th anniversary
②Disaster preparedness program which utilizes JAXA satellites
③Government officials' visitation at rocket launches
④Dispatch of an astronaut to an event organized by a major distribution company
Additionally, an employee survey on all JAXA personnel is being conducted. It asks if any has contact with the individuals who were arrested or prosecuted at the same time as Kawabata.
Concerning (2), hearing by outside experts has been done on the vice presidents and the associate director generals. The results help the investigation team to examine how the code of ethics are complied and how JAXA should ensure it.
Objects of the investigation may expand as the investigation team deems necessary depending on the team's finding and the development of the legal process.
Interim report is compiled by the end of November. It will be available at the JAXA website. I will report it at the regular press conference.
If the investigation results should suggest any issue to be addressed, JAXA would be determined to improve its governance to tackle the issues.
This case has caused the JAXA management to instruct all personnel to comply with laws and regulation. We will make sure to keep high ethical standards through training and seminars and continue in this endeavor.