JAXA President Monthly Press Conference May 2019

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. on May 10 (Fri), 2019
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department

The End of Operation of Fixed-Point Observation by Super Low Altitude Test Satellite "TSUBAME" (SLATS)

"TSUBAME" was launched on December 23, 2017, and has entered one of its operations phases, maintaining an altitude of 271.5 km since April 2. Due to greater air resistance, a low orbit referred to as a super low orbit lower than 300 km was an undeveloped orbit where artificial satellites had difficulty maintaining their altitude. However, by using the ion engine technology that JAXA has cultivated, we have demonstrated the technology of maintaining a super low orbit for an extended period of time.
As I just explained, "TSUBAME" satellite is currently at an altitude of 271.5 km. This altitude makes it possible to conduct the so-called fixed-point observation from the same direction every day. In addition, taking advantage of its benefits, a super low orbit makes it possible for a small-size camera to achieve a high resolution observation and allows a satellite to carry a camera that can observe over an extended period of time not only at daytime but also evening.
One example for the fixed-point observation is that the satellite has observed the center of Tokyo around 16:30 every day for more than one month. We believe that such fixed-point observation early in the evening will allow satellite data to be used for observing the level of traffic congestion, the utilizing of parking lots, the level of crowdedness at parks, baseball stadiums, etc. in a time zone when the city's economic activities are increasing. Moreover, by combining such data with existing satellite data and other big data, we think we can unprecedentedly improve the value of satellite and expand its utilization.
I just said that the altitude of "TSUBAME" is 271.5 km. The operations of fixed-point observation are scheduled to end as of today, May 10. The satellite will gradually lower its altitude down to 250 km, 240 km, 230 km and 220 km. At an altitude of 180 km, the satellite is planned to continue demonstrating the super low altitude satellite technology by maintaining an orbit for a predetermined period and continuing its observation operations. Then, beginning around September, the satellite is planned to move on to the latter phase operations to conduct operations by using the remaining propellant.
We have already released typical images obtained by the fixed-point observation on the Satellite Navigator page of the JAXA's website. We will shortly release image data on the satellite data platform "Tellus" in preparation for public use. We will continue promoting our activities to expand the value and utilization of satellite data.

The Result of Joint Research on Manufacturing Integrated Circuit to be Onboard a Spacecraft by the Low Volume Production System (Minimal Fab)

Just made a press release a while ago, in collaboration with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), JAXA has successfully demonstrated for the first time in the world that integrated circuit to be used in space can be manufactured by the low volume production system (minimal fab). The low volume production system (minimal fab) is an integrated circuit production system proposed by the AIST that enables the low-volume and various-kinds production.
The number of integrated circuits used for a spacecraft such as satellite is usually several to about 100. Low-volume and various kinds of integrated circuits are needed in space. For this reason, manufacturing costs per chip are very expensive in the conventional semiconductor manufacturing method as it targets the civilian equipment market on the ground that generally needs mass production.
Taking this challenge into account, JAXA and the AIST have collaborated since 2017 in a joint research on minimal fab for space use by sharing JAXA's know-how of designing and manufacturing semiconductor integrated circuit for space use with the AIST's minimal fab. As a result, the joint research successfully demonstrated the intended manufacturing.
If we can put the manufacturing by minimal fab to practical use in the future, cleanrooms will be unnecessary by downsizing manufacturing equipment and optimizing the process. It used to take about three months to manufacture an integrated circuit, but with minimal fab, we will be able to significantly reduce the manufacturing time to three to five days. It will also be possible to reduce the capital investment for one manufacturing line to about one-thousandth of the conventional investment.
We can expect that the success this time in trial manufacturing and operational verification of integrated circuit will bring a dramatic change in the manufacturing process of space equipment. We also hope that the new development will be applied not only to spacecraft but also to a wide range of other industries. We will continue researching on the practical application of minimal fab.

The Success in Creating Crater by "Hayabusa2" and the Future Plan

From April 23 to 25, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft conducted the so-called Crater Search Operation (CRA2). It observed asteroid Ryugu from the point at an altitude of 1.7 km from the asteroid. As a result of comparing observed images taken by the Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T) onboard the Hayabusa2 with those taken before the operation of the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI), we confirmed that a crater was successfully created for the first time in the world by the SCI. Based on the ONC-T images, we confirmed that there is a topographical change in almost round-shape with over 10 m in diameter, the dug ground and its associated topographical change. It is expected that based on the diameter, we will be able to conjecture the strength and age of Ryugu's surface.
From now on, we will aim to have the Hayabusa2 touchdown on an area around the crater made by the SCI. Through operations of the Descent Observation at a low altitude around May to June, we will conduct detailed topographical observations for the selection of the candidate sites for touchdown. We will determine whether to implement a second touchdown by dropping a target marker in preparation for landing, depending on given conditions.

The 10th Anniversary of the Completion of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" and the First Launch of H-II Transfer Vehicle "KONOTORI"

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" of the International Space Station (ISS), which was completed on July 19, 2009, after three launches of the Space Shuttle. Transfer Vehicle "KONOTORI" for the ISS will also mark the 10th anniversary on September 11 since its first launch.
Through the construction of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" and its operations over 10 years, Japan has obtained manned space technology. In addition, Japan has achieved unmanned cargo transport with "KONOTORI" and we are proud of its only 100 percent success rate among active transfer vehicles. In November 2018, "KONOTORI" also successfully recovered experiment samples from the ISS for the first time. Through our activities over 10 years, we believe that Japan has been able to solidify trust from our international partners.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary, we will hold a public symposium in Yurakucho and would like to have opinions from various angles on outcomes of manned space activities over 10 years and future prospects. The registration for the symposium will be available from mid-July. We would also like to hold a commemorating meeting on September 2 to discuss the low earth orbit manned space activities in the future by inviting senior officials from international space agencies including NASA to the Tsukuba Space Center. We will keep you updated for more details on the events on our webpage. Your coverage of the events is much appreciated. Thank you.