JAXA President Monthly Press Conference December 2019

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. on December 13 (Fri), 2019
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department

Results of the 26th Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-26)

For four days at the end of last month from November 26 (Tue) through 29 (Fri), the 26th Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-26) co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and JAXA was held in Nagoya City with “The development of diverse connections that will open a new space era” as the theme.

A total of 469 people from 31 countries and regions and 9 international agencies participated in the forum. By looking 25 years ahead, we adopted “APRSAF Nagoya Vision” as an outcome document of the forum that sets a course of our efforts for the next 10 years. We agreed to achieve the following four goals in the vision: (1) promoting the resolution of a wide range of ground issues; (2) developing human resources and improving scientific and technological strength; (3) improving policy implementation ability to address common challenges in the region; and (4) promoting the participation in the APRSAF by new players in the region and advancing diverse cooperation.

As the forum’s individual outcomes, we launched three new initiatives.

First, we launched “SAFE Evolution,” a program in which countries having satellites in the Asia-Pacific region provide satellite data each other to promote the multilateral utilization of data. As “SAFE” (Space Applications for Environment) activities, we have implemented bilateral cooperation called “SAFE Initiative” in the Asia-Pacific region. SAFE Initiative aims to resolve social issues associated with climate change through a long-term Earth observation by using space technology particularly remote-sensing technologies from space.

This time, we developed the “SAFE Initiative,” which was originally bilateral cooperation, into multilateral cooperation as “SAFE Evolution” to promote the resolution of regional issues by using space technology.

By making it possible the utilization of diverse satellite data with Japan and India as centers, we plan to further promote the sustainable utilization of satellite data and information provision that meets users’ needs.

Second, we launched “JJ-NeST” (JICA-JAXA Network for Utilization of Space Technology) in cooperation with JICA. This is a long-term human resources development program that cultivates at Japanese universities human resources with high level knowledge who will play a leadership role in the Asia-Pacific region in the future. From now on, we plan to build a network of space-related human resources in the Asia-Pacific region by focusing on participants in this program.

Third, in response to growing needs for sharing information on space policy including the development and promotion of space-related industry, we have supported the building of space policy communities in the region since the 24th APRSAF. Furthermore, we newly launched an initiative related to space legislation called “National Space Legislation Initiative.” Through the new initiative, we will share information among working-level officials in charge of policy on each country’s efforts in legal policy for implementing international standards and mutually study each other. In this way, the new initiative is aimed at making laws concerning common issues in the region, improving the policy implementation ability and contributing to the stable space utilization.

During the latest forum, various players took to the stage and I was able to exchange opinions with them. Many people from industrial circles also participated in the forum. Moreover, Japanese and Asian students, who will lead the future space development and use space services, had dialogues with heads of space agencies. Through their discussions, we had an opportunity to receive frank opinions on the future space activities.

I would like to discuss my overall view on the forum. In recent years, space agencies have been established in the Asia-Pacific region. Information has been actively shared on space related technology such as the development of microsatellite and space policy including the development and promotion of space-related industries. I felt an energy not only from efforts in each country but also from the entire Asia-Pacific region that tries to promote space development. The number of participants from the Asia-Pacific region as well as from the West and the Middle East is increasing, which makes me feel that cooperation is further expanding.

I hope the APRSAF will serve as a magnet to attract people who are interested in space from countries in the Asia-Pacific region, connect various players to deepen their relationship so that APRSAF will increase its unifying force.

For your information, the next 27th APRSAF is scheduled to be held in Vietnam in 2020 and the 28th APRSAF in Indonesia in 2021.

Earth Return Operation of “Hayabusa2”

The asteroid explorer “Hayabusa2” left asteroid Ryugu on November 13. After implementing a test operation of its ion engines, we started the ion engines at 11:42 Japan standard time on December 3 (Tue) last week, confirming that the explorer gained acceleration as planned. I have received a report that currently the operation of the explorer is normal.
Five years have passed since “Hayabusa2” was launched in December 2014. Since it arrived at asteroid Ryugu in June 2018, with many supports from people both in Japan and overseas, we were able to complete various missions successfully including the observation of Ryugu, the separation operations of MINERVA-II and MASCOT, the impactor operation and the touchdown operation on two occasions.
From now on, “Hayabusa2” will sail for about one year to return to the Earth. We aim to recover the Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule at the end of 2020.
The missions of the capsule re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and landing on the target spot will not be easy at all.
In order to successfully recover and confirm samples collected from the asteroid’s surface and inside, I want the project team members to brace themselves up for the missions and tackle the remaining tasks.

Providing Opportunities to Launch Microsatellites

JAXA provides opportunities to launch microsatellites such as CubeSat and a 50kg-class satellite.

There are three ways to provide the opportunity:
(1) Releasing from the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” on the International Space Station (ISS);
(2) Through the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program by Epsilon Rocket; and
(3) Launching as a piggyback payload on H-IIA rocket.

In 2018, JAXA transferred the responsibility for the project of releasing microsatellites from “Kibo” to Space BD Inc. and Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

In addition, JAXA made a comprehensive agreement with Tohoku University and Hokkaido University in March 2017, Kyushu Institute of Technology in April 2017 and the University of Tokyo in April 2018 providing opportunities to release microsatellites from “Kibo” through the universities.

With respect to providing opportunities to launch an microsatellite as a piggyback payload on H-IIA rocket, JAXA launched a total of 32 microsatellites in about 10 years since we started publicly offering opportunities in 2006.

In this way, we have committed to expanding the base for the space industry.

Through publicly inviting businesses in September and the selection of a business operator in November this year, JAXA concluded a basic agreement with Space BD Inc. on December 3 last week and transferred the responsibility to the private company for the project of providing opportunities to launch microsatellites as a piggyback payload on H-IIA rocket.

From now on, this project will be implemented by using H-IIA rocket and H3 rocket that carry JAXA’s satellite.

We regard Space BD Inc. as our strategic partner.

For the project to head in the right direction, we will provide cooperation for promoting the project utilization, technology support, and advice, as well as advanced technology transfer so that the company will stand on its own in the future.

The market for microsatellites is expected to continue expanding globally. Taking advantage of Space BD’s ideas and ability to get things done, we want to broadly provide a unique project of providing opportunities to launch microsatellites as a piggyback payload by using H-IIA and H3 rockets.

“Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM) Satellite Utilization Symposium”

On December 20 (Fri) next week, “GCOM Satellite Utilization Symposium” entitled “The Earth caught by ‘SHIKISAI’ and ‘SHIZUKU:’ The era of global observation by multiple missions” will be held at Ochanomizu Sola City Hall.

The symposium is held on the occasion of the one year anniversary of providing observation data from both “SHIZUKU” (GCOM-W), which was launched in May 2012 for observing water circulation changes, and “SHIKISAI” (GCOM-C), which was additionally launched in December 2017 for observing climate changes.

Supported by the recent advancement of data analysis technology and modeling technology, data from multiple Earth-observing satellites is used in various methods for various purposes. For example, some of the typical data caught by Earth-observing satellites are the reduction of sea ice extent in the Arctic region, which was caught by “SHIZUKU” satellite, and the detection of location of forest fire and smoke in the Amazon rainforest, which was caught by “SHIKISAI” satellite. In addition, observation data obtained by both “SHIZUKU” and “SHIKISAI” satellites is also used for monitoring sea surface temperature, sea ice and volcanos as well as for fishery and agriculture. Satellite observation data is also used for the research of global warming predictions by inputting it into a simulation model called an Earth system model.

During the upcoming symposium, we plan to have participants from relevant ministries, agencies, research institutes and local governments deliver lectures on the research for climate change in relation to the Global Change Observation Mission and results of satellite data utilization by agencies actually using satellite data. We have also requested certified meteorologists to deliver lectures on satellite observation from their viewpoint. Moreover, there will be a panel discussion on the fields of actual satellite utilization and science, which will include participants from private companies.

Taking into account opinions and requests to be presented in the scheduled symposium, we are committed to promoting the Earth observation that will contribute to various fields of stakeholders including relevant ministries, agencies, local governments, research institutes and private companies. Your participation in the symposium will be greatly appreciated.

Completion of Installing Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) for Space Demonstration Tests on an External Platform Outside the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” of the International Space Station

I am going to discuss a hyperspectral image suite called “HISUI” for space demonstration tests, which is developed and operated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

After launched on December 6 last week by “SpX-19” of SpaceX toward the International Space Station (ISS), “HISUI” was successfully installed on an external platform outside the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo.”

Under the agreement on the installation of “HISUI” on “Kibo” concluded between METI and JAXA, we are responsible for transporting “HISUI” to the ISS as part of goods supply resources, installing “HISUI” outside “Kibo” by operating Kibo’s robotic arm on-orbit, and providing intra-vehicular supports to recover data obtained by “HISUI” on the ground,

JAXA has completed the initial start of “HISUI” and METI is currently implementing a functional confirmation in preparation for observation. We have been notified that an observation will start from late December.

The “HISUI” mission is aimed at precisely identifying surface materials by using observation data. It is expected that “HISUI” will be used in the future for resource surveys such as oil, metals, and minerals.

We would like to continue widely providing “Kibo” as a place for space technology demonstrations; thereby, contributing to creating new values in the world.