JAXA President Monthly Press Conference January 2020

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 4:30 - 5:15 p.m. on January 10 (Fri), 2020
Venue: JAXA Tokyo Office Presentation Room (B1 floor)
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department

New Year’s Greeting

JAXA sends the new year’s greetings to all. I would appreciate your continued kind cooperation this year.

This year, the Fourth Mid-to-Long term Plans will enter the third year in April. With the environment surrounding space rapidly changing, we will need to win through internationally competitive environment by gathering strength of academy, industry and government. We believe that 2020 will be the year of challenge for JAXA or Japan’s space development. Under the circumstances, I would like to introduce some of our scheduled plans including those for the next fiscal year.
First, I will discuss the space transportation technology. In FY 2020, we are aiming to launch the first H3 test vehicle, Japan’s new flagship rocket. Japan is one of the few countries in the world that can independently conduct space activities. The H3 launch vehicle development really represents the mainstay that supports the foundation of independent development. As the H3 launch vehicle development is now at a crucial stage, we would like to continue exerting all our efforts into steadfast progress.
In addition, last year, H-II Transfer Vehicle, “KOUNOTORI” 8 (HTV8) was launched for the first time after the Act on Launching of Spacecraft, etc. and Control of Spacecraft came into force. Following the launch of “KOUNOTORI” 8, HTV9, which will be the last HTV, is scheduled to be launched this year. We would like to ensure a successful launch of HTV9 and subsequently move forward with the steadfast development of the H3 launch vehicle and HTV-X, a new transfer vehicle.
Furthermore, in FY 2020 we plan to launch Japanese Data Relay System (JDRS), a data relay satellite, by H-IIA launch vehicle and “DAICHI-3” (Advanced Land Observation Satellite: ALOS-3) by H3 launch vehicle. Last year, many natural disasters occurred including a series of large typhoons coming ashore. We would like to contribute to disaster damage prevention and reduction through the utilization of satellite data.
As for international space exploration, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe officially announced Japan’s participation in the U.S.-initiated manned lunar orbital platform “Gateway” at a meeting of the government’s Strategic Headquarters for Space Development held in October last year. In order to maintain Japan’s presence in international cooperation, we are committed to steadfastly progress in research and development aimed at contributing to manned space stay technology in which Japan is superior and for which a ripple effect is significantly expected. We do this by taking advantage of Japan’s accumulated strength through activities at the International Space Station (ISS) and the operation of H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI” (HTV) and the Japanese Experimental Module “Kibo,” both of which celebrated the 10th anniversary last year.
And at the end of this year, the asteroid explorer “Hayabusa2” sample return capsule is scheduled to return to Earth. As you know, the spacecraft performed two touchdowns and collected samples. We would like to fully prepare to make the last mission, the recovery of the samples, successful. We would like to continue using the knowledge and technology obtained from the “Hayabusa2” mission for other space exploration missions such as Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) and Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) to make the missions successful.
JAXA is committed to putting efforts to make steady progress through research and development as well as various projects so that we can play the role as a core implementing organization that supports the entire government’s space activities through technology.

New Fiscal Budget (FY 2020)

The Japanese government has just drafted the fiscal 2020 budget. According to the draft budget, it allocates for JAXA 157.1 billion yen, 1.5 billion yen more than the previous year. Additionally, 31.7 billion yen supplementary budget is funded for JAXA during the current fiscal year, 2.6 billion yen more than the previous year. The supplementary budget for this fiscal year and the fiscal 2020 budget for JAXA; therefore, adds up to a total of 188.8 billion yen, 4.1 billion yen more than the previous year. I would like to elaborate on a few major sections.
First, in FY 2020, we are aiming to launch the first H3 test vehicle, Japan’s new flagship rocket. 32.2 billion yen, including the supplementary budget, has been appropriated to fund the development costs of the first H3 launch vehicle. The development of the first H3 launch vehicle is now entering the final stage. We will continue exerting all our efforts to develop the rocket for a successful launch. Also, 14.9 billion yen including the supplementary budget has been appropriated to fund the development costs of Advanced Optical Satellite (ALOS-3), a payload of the first H3 launch vehicle.
Second, I would like to discuss the promotion of international space exploration. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe officially announced Japan’s participation in the U.S.-initiated manned lunar orbital platform “Gateway” at a meeting of the government’s Strategic Headquarters for Space Development held in October last year. As the budget related to “Gateway,” about 12 billion yen including the supplementary budget has been earmarked for funding the research and development aimed at contributing to manned space stay technology in which Japan is superior and for which a ripple effect is significantly expected, as well as funding for the research and development of a new transfer vehicle (HTV-X) aimed also at enabling the new vehicle to transport supplies to “Gateway” as the supply technology in deep space. I consider Japan’s participation in international space exploration significant for various fields including diplomacy, security, international competitiveness, industrial expansion and deep space exploration. Taking full advantage of technology and outcomes obtained from the participation in the ISS program, JAXA is committed to steadfast research and development.
The third one is the research and development of next generation aeronautical science technologies. 3.6 billion yen is allocated to fund the research and development of core engine technologies that significantly improves fuel consumption and reduce environmental burden, as well as the research and development of silent supersonic airplane and emission-free aircraft (electric-powered propulsion systems). Through these research and development programs, we would like to accelerate a leading and fundamental research and development toward the dramatic progress of Japan’s aviation industry.
Realizing the role and responsibility given to JAXA, we endeavor to maximize results and continue effective and efficient research and development though we are aware a tight budget can be afforded for space development. We appreciate your continued understanding and support.

Implementation of Fairing Separation and Release Test for H3 Rocket

We continue developing H3 rocket toward the first test launch in FY 2020. To achieve a safe and successful launch of the rocket, we are advancing the development through the rocket’s comprehensive system that consists of the launch vehicle, ground launch facility and launch safety services.

The development is at its crucial stage. For example, we are jointly developing the launch vehicle with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the prime contractor. We are conducting a large scale test such as the First Stage Battleship Firing Test (BFT) etc. to check the function and performance of the propulsion system through a firing test by combining a sturdy and thick tank, which is a mock of the actual rocket, and the engine. In addition, the manufacturing of the actual rocket including the structural part where the engine is equipped and the structural part that connects two tanks of the rocket’s first stage has nearly been completed.

On December 17 last year, a test for separating and releasing the fairing, one of the rocket’s main components, which was newly developed for H3 rocket, was conducted at Harima Works of Kawasaki Heavy Industries. During the test, the fairing was actually separated on the ground to ensure the function of separating the fairing from the rocket after reaching outer space so as not to impact a satellite inside the fairing. In this way, the behavior and impact on the payload in the fairing at the time of separation were assessed. The test was successfully completed and intended data was obtained. We are now evaluating data in detail.

A fairing plays an important role in protecting a satellite from the force and aerodynamic heating generated by the atmosphere while a rocket is flying in the atmosphere. In the development of H3 rocket, we aim to improve the performance of fairing by reviewing its shape and reduce costs. The latest test was the last one for the fairing development over 4 years. We will thoroughly check results of the development including data obtained from the latest test and wrap up the development.

There are more crucial stages of the development ahead of us including Integrated System Test in which the rocket’s airframe and ground launch facility are combined. With cooperation from relevant companies, JAXA will continue the H3 rocket development toward the launch of first test rocket in FY 2020.

Super Low Altitude Test Satellite (SLATS) “TSUBAME” Has Set a Guinness World Records®

On December 24 last year, Super Low Altitude Test Satellite (SLATS) “TSUBAME” was registered by the Guinness World Records®.

“TSUBAME” maintained an orbit at 167.4 km altitude for 7 days from September 23 and was registered as “Lowest altitude by an Earth observation satellite in orbit.”

Generally, when in orbit at an altitude below 300 km that is categorized as being “super low,” a satellite will be exposed to 1,000 times more atmospheric resistance compared with an altitude for a normal Earth observation satellite’s orbit (higher than 600 km). A satellite at such a low altitude will also be exposed to concentrated atomic oxygen, the main atmospheric component, that would cause the deterioration of satellite materials. For this reason, super low altitude is believed to be unsuitable for Earth observation satellites that requires precise attitude, orbital control and satellite operation over a long period of yeas.

Despite such a challenging environment, “TSUBAME” while maintaining an altitude of 167.4 km recognized by Guinness successfully captured high-resolution and high-quality satellite images in experiments. The satellite also obtained data on atmospheric density, the density of atomic oxygen and the deterioration level of sample materials exposed to the atmosphere, as well as demonstrated that materials developed by JAXA can endure the prolonged exposure to atomic oxygen.

From now on, we would like to further develop the knowledge obtained by “TSUBAME” and connect it with the utilization of space in the future that will contribute to the development of Japan’s scientific technology and the resolution of social issues.

On January 24 (Tue) , we will hold “Workshop toward the Utilization of Super-Low-Altitude Satellite (5th)” at TKP Shinbashi Conference Center. This will be the final workshop. Based on results obtained by “TSUBAME,” we plan to present outcomes of the “TSUBAME” operation and the latest research results demonstrated by “TSUBAME” aiming to develop the super-low-altitude technology for the utilization of space in the future, as well as present the future prospect for the development of super-low-altitude mission. We welcome your participation in the workshop.

“Kibo Utilization Symposium 2020”

On February 13 (Thu) and 14 (Fri), we will hold the “Kibo Utilization Symposium 2020” at Nihonbashi Life Science Hub.

With international space exploration being promoted now, the Japanese Experimental Module “Kibo” presents a place of demonstrating technology and creating new demands by taking advantage of its accessibility and a stable usage environment, which is the strength of “Kibo.”

Through the symposium, we will introduce such attraction of “Kibo.” We also plan to have representatives from every walk of life hold a discussion and give presentations of “Kibo” from political and economic perspectives as well as the perspective of technological innovation.

Keeping in mind the post ISS era, we will focus on the creation of demand for using low Earth orbit in particular at the symposium and hold a discussion on the utilization of “Kibo” for new activities (for example, housing, food and clothing) and the utilization of advanced technology such as robotics etc.

In addition, as a joint symposium between JAXA and NASA, we plan to introduce the progress status of international cooperation based on the “Japan-U.S. Open Platform Partnership Program (JP-US OP3)” and the latest Japan-U.S. policy during the symposium.

We would like people in general, researchers, business operators and policy makers to participate in the symposium. We would appreciate your participation in the event. Thank you.