JAXA President Monthly Press Conference September 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 September 6 (Fri), 2019
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department

FY 2020 Budgetary Request

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has requested about 204.5 billion yen as JAXA’s budget for the JFY 2020 budgetary request. The amount is the largest for last 10 years. The main items in the budgetary request for the steady progress include the following: the development of the H3 launch vehicle aimed at test-launching in the next fiscal year; the development the Advanced Optical Satellite (ALOS-3); the technological development aimed at demonstrating the removal of large space debris for the first time in the world; the development of a new transfer vehicle "HTV-X" that not only results in efficient cargo transportation to the International Space Station (ISS), but also aims at acquiring deep space supply technology. In addition to these important existing projects, the budgets required for efforts to participate in lunar exploration plan through international cooperation was requested, aiming to expand the realm of human activities and create new value in deep space exploration.
First, about 1.2 billion yen was requested to develop equipment etc. that will be provided for the Mini-HAB of the initial stage of U.S.- initiated lunar orbital platform “Gateway” to be constructed for a manned moon landing in 2024. We plan to provide environment control and life-support, thermal control pump and batteries. These technologies for manned space stay missions are expected to bring about a ripple effect, as well as for Japan to demonstrate its superiority based on Japan’s achievements including the Japanese Experimental Module “Kibo” on the ISS.
The second is the lunar polar exploration mission. In this mission, the lunar polar regions are explored with India, aiming to gather data on the amount of water ice existing in the lunar polar regions and their availability as resources, as well as to acquire the technology needed to explore the surface of gravity celestial bodies. Currently, the mission is moving forward with the division of roles in which Japan is responsible for the development a rover system and the launch of a spacecraft and India is responsible for the development of a lander system. In order to make a start on the basic design of spacecraft system and mission equipment in the next fiscal year, about 600 million yen was requested.
With respect to the aviation-related budget, in order to steadily advance the research and development toward realizing a silent supersonic aircraft and emission-free (electrically powered propulsion) airplane based on the Stratetgic Vision for Researching and Developing Next-Generation Aircraft, about 4 billion yen, about 300 million yen more than the previous year, was requested.
In accordance with the Basic Plan on Space Policy and JAXA’s Fourth Mid-to-long-term objectives, we are committed to fulfilling our role and responsibility to meet the people’s expectation and would like to continue advancing research and development. We appreciate your understanding and support.

Contribution to the International Planetary Protection Policy for Martian Moon Exploration

JAXA, Chiba Institute of Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, The University of Tokyo, and Tokyo University of Pharmacy Life Sciences jointly conducted scientific research that assessed the microbial contamination of the Martian moons.

A report on this research was accepted by the Panel on Planetary Protection (PPP) for the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and was approved as a recommendation to JAXA's Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission by the 89th COSPAR Bureau held in March 2019. COSPAR – the acronym of Committee on Space Research – is an international academic organization established in 1958 for the purpose of promoting scientific research on space at the international level by exchanging opinions on research results and information.

Aiming to make the MMX a project, JAXA puts a priority on and promotes the research of key technology with high novelty. We made a budgetary request necessary for the MMX toward launching a project in fiscal 2024.

Please allow me to explain the background a little bit more. When conducting space exploration, nations and organizations have to comply with a set of rules (Planetary Protection Policy). The rules include the category division to be assigned according to the severity of adverse impact of contamination of target celestial bodies on the future research. However, the category for the Martian moons (Phobos and Deimos) had not been defined.

The Japanese research team played a leading role in the scientific activities necessary to set new rules for the Martian moons. Specifically, the team estimated the global distribution of microorganisms on the Martian moons that may have been transported from Mars in the past 5 million years. The results indicated scientifically and quantitatively that the probability that microorganisms may be included in samples collected by the MMX spacecraft is much less than the upper limit that has been agreed internationally. That is, the samples collected by the MMX mission are “safe” to bring to Earth.

The fact that this result was approved by COSPAR as committee means that an international agreement was obtained to conduct the MMX mission at the same level of planetary protection policy as Hayabusa2 and that Japan significantly contributed to the Planetary Protection Policy as COSPAR’s international standards.

Please refer to the electronic version of “Life Sciences in Space Research” July 2019 edition, a scientific journal in Europe, which published the research results.

Ground Firing Test Results of the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB3) for H-3 Rocket

As you know, we are preparing to launch the H-3 rocket the next year and the development of the rocket is now coming to the most important stage.

As part of the development of the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB3) for the H-3 rocket, a ground firing test for certification of motor was conducted on August 28 at the the Ground Combustion Test Facilities for Solid Rocket of the Takesaki site at the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center. The certification test is a test conducted by using a motor with the same specification of the flight motor (used for launch) to verify design, manufacturing and inspection.

The day was blessed by the weather. The rockert motor was ignited at 11:00 a.m. and combusted for 105.5 seconds. The test was successfully completed. We are currently evaluating obtained data in detail.

We plan to conduct such a ground firing test for a total of three times. The first test was conducted in August last year for the SRB-3 design validation and verification. The latest test conducted on August 28 was the second test. The certification of motor is scheduled to be completed with one more test. We are committed to continuing putting our efforts into the development for a successful launch of the H-3 rocket.

The Implementation of Educational Project with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Based on the Cooperation Arrangement between the United Arab Emirates Space Agency and JAXA established in 2016, JAXA and The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) will cooperatively perform an educational project for the purpose of human resources development using "Int-Ball", an internal drone camera in the Japanese Experimental Module Kibo on the International Space Station. I just described Int-Ball as Kibo’s internal drone, which is a round-shaped small robot developed by JAXA that can record still and moving images by autonomously moving inside “Kibo” by controlling its own attitude. Int-Ball’s attitude is controlled by the Miniaturized 3-axis Attitude Control Sensors and Actuators. This attitude-control module integrates wheels and gyroscopes in a cube measuring 31mm.

UAE’s first-ever astronaut will fly to the ISS from September 25. In this educational project, the UAE astronaut staying on the ISS will carry out an educational mission to explain the mechanism of attitude control of a spacecraft by using the Kibo’s internal drone Int-Ball around September 30 (scheduled). Also on the same day, the UAE astronaut on orbit will have a question and answer session with the UAE students who will be invited to the control room of JAXA's Tsukuba Space Center.

In addition, in order for the students to further understand the experiment on the “Kibo” prior to the educational mission in space, JAXA and MBRSC will cooperatively hold seminars on the research of space robot technologies and the attitude control technology of a spacecraft, geared towards UAE students on September 9 and 10 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively.

As this event will be streamed in real-time on the Internet in Japan and overseas, we hope the educational experiment will contribute to the education of the next generation. We also hope that this cooperation will be a significant opportunity that will lead to promoting the utilization of “Kibo” from now onward and further development of the cooperative relationship with UAE.

“The 26th Session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-26)” will be held in Nagoya

The Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) will be held at the Nagoya Convention Hall from November 26 (Tue) through November 29 (Fri). The APRSAF is an international space conference co-organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology and JAXA as well as by the space agency of the host country. This year’s conference marks the 26th session and will be held in Japan. The event was held in Singapore last year.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Advancing Diverse Links Toward a New Space Era.”

The utilization of space development in the Asia and Pacific region has significantly advanced in the last quarter century. The whole region has aimed to improve space technology capability as seen in the use of satellite data for resolving ground issues and the advancement of independent initiatives in developing satellites. In recent years, new space agencies have been established in the region and actively promoted the utilization of space development. In addition, the number of players involving space is rapidly increasing because new agencies that use space information and businesses from industries have joined the space business.

Many participants gather at the APRSAF-26 including the heads of space agencies in Asia and Pacific region and the Middle East, officials in charge of space development in foreign governments and international agencies and people who utilize space technology. In addition to these participants, new players such as venture businesses and young generation who will lead space activities in the next generation will participate in the forum. We will hold panel discussions among these diverse players through dialogues

The APRSAF enters a new quarter century. By creating diverse cooperation with diverse players, we would like to further develop the forum and promote the sustainable utilization of space development that will lead to the next generation. This is Japan’s 9th time hosting the event and for the first time in 5 years. Taking advantage of an opportunity to host the APRSAF in Japan, we would like various people to participate in the forum including not only space agencies like us but also Japanese space ventures and those who have not been involved in space such as businesses, research institutes and students. With exchanges among diverse space-related stakeholders in the Asia and Pacific region as a stepping-stone, we would like to create opportunities to develop research and business in the Asia and Pacific region.

The Current Status of Launching the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI”8

The launch of the cargo transporter KOUNOTORI8 to the International Space Station scheduled for September 11 (Wed) next week is getting closer. We plan to launch KOUNOTORI8 from the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center around 6:33 a.m. early in the morning. This will be the first launch of a KOUNOTORI after the Space Activities Act ( Act on Launching of Spacecraft, etc. and Control of Spacecraft) came into force.

I have heard that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., is currently proceeding with the launch preparation smoothly. On the day of launch, JAXA plans to broadcast the launch of KOUNOTORI8 live.