JAXA President Monthly Press Conference June 2020

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. on June 12 (Fri), 2020
Venue: Online
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department


On May 25, the Japanese government announced that the state of emergency which was intended to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVIDd-19) outbreak had been fully lifted. However, it will likely take a considerable period of time before the outbreak finally comes to end.

At JAXA, we began preparing to resume operations following the announcement, giving the highest priority to safety, and have gradually reopened offices and facilities, while enforcing appropriate anti-coronavirus measures, such as encouraging the personnel to continue working from home when possible and requiring them to wear a mask and use disinfectants when at worksites.

Going forward, while adequately preparing for a possible second and third wave of outbreak, we will promote post-COVID-19 reconstruction efforts, which should not about simply getting back to the pre-crisis state, but instead must be for exploring new approaches to work and life based on experiences related to the recent crisis responses and the “new lifestyle” norm advocated by the government.

In these circumstances, I am pleased to report that KOUNOTORI 9 (HTV 9), launched May 21 from the Tanegashima Space Center, successfully successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) to fulfill its major task of delivering necessary supplies. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to local residents and related organizations for kind understanding and support to our activities.

KOUNOTORI 9, after being moored at the ISS to load waste and other products, will be undocked to re-enter the atmosphere and complete its mission. We will continue making all-out efforts to ensure that necessary tasks will be properly performed.

Basic agreement signed on the Epsilon S Launch Vehicle Project and first launch agreement

JAXA and IHI AEROSPACE CO., LTD. (IA), are pursuing preliminary design on synergetic effects of the H3 Launch Vehicle and Epsilon launch vehicle with the aim of ensuring seamless rocket launch operations after decommission of the H-IIA and H-IIB Launch Vehicles as well as increasing the international competitiveness.

Recently this synergetic development has completed the preliminary design phase, and advanced to the practical development phase. To further advance the collaborative project, renamed the “Epsilon S Launch Vehicle Project,” JAXA and IA concluded a basic agreement on the project development and launch service business on June 11.

The basic agreement, which specifies the rolls and responsibilities to be assumed by each partner during the project development and operational stages, allows us to take a vitally important step forward in laying a series of foundations for transferring the launch service operation to IA.

On the same day, June 11, JAXA also signed an agreement with NEC Corporation (NEC) to launch a Vietnamese Earth observation satellite LOTUSat-1 onboard a demonstration flight of the Epsilon S Launch Vehicle Project. This marks the project’s first overseas payload satellite launch contract. The launch is scheduled for 2023.

LOTUSat-1 is developed and manufactured by NEC, under the contracts awarded by Sumitomo Corporation in April 2020 on the development, manufacturing, launch service procurement, ground system development, among others, of the satellite project hosted by the Vietnam National Space Center (VNSC).

The Epsilon S Launch Vehicle Project aims at winning more launch service contracts by meeting private-sector demands in addition to those from governments, as well as building independent commercial launch service industry through transferring the relevant operations to private operators. Keeping these aims in mind, we will pursue this endeavor to construct a sustainable launch service system, pursuing synergetic effects with the H3 Launch Vehicle, and looking to enhance Japan’s independent space access capabilities and expand the space industry market.

The satellite launch market has recently been growing, reflecting a rise in global demand for different types and sizes of vehicles, especially small satellites, including microsatellites and CubeSats, a trend driven by evolving miniaturization and integration technologies. Following the LOTUSat-1 project, we will step up efforts to be able to win many more new launch contracts in the future.

Themes selected for Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-3

JAXA runs the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program for the purpose of providing business, research and academic organizations in Japan with an opportunity via open application to perform demonstrations for their innovative technology plans and concepts in an orbiting satellite setting.

The program has advanced to its third flight plan. The first flight was carried out in January 2019, and the second plan is under development. For the third, we announced the result of application screening at the end of May 2020, naming a total of 15 selected themes―7 for parts/components/subsystems, 3 for microsatellites and 5 for CubeSats.

The first two missions were planned with a focus on opportunity management, particularly for the three purposes: ensure in-orbit demonstrations opportunities for key satellite technologies; offer regular auxiliary launch opportunities, in a bid to facilitate space use; and offer development/demonstration opportunities preferentially to challenging, high-risk satellite technologies and missions.

The third mission has been designed to serve new, additional objectives: place greater focus on the technology aspect, specifically satellite development methods and mission techniques, to expedite the in-orbit demonstration cycle, looking at shorter-period, lower-cost and more sophisticated development processing for government satellite contracts, and increased industrial competitiveness.

Accordingly, a new objective, in addition to the preceding ones, was set for the application guidelines for the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-3 Program, as described below:

“demonstration for flexible satellite development methods and innovative mission/system techniques aimed at shorter-period, lower-cost and more sophisticated development for government and related satellite projects by adopting challenging mission/system processes”

Five out of the 15 selected themes meet the above objective. Among them are those related to employing satellites to perform relay functions for IoT deployments driven by the spreading next-generation (5G) network technology, and applying advanced consumer-use digital devices to enable “intelligent satellite” systems and revolutionizing relevant development methods.

We will continue promoting the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program to offer in-orbit demonstration opportunities for many new technology plans and concepts, seeking to facilitate space use and develop space industry in Japan.

Environmental test facility operation and utilization expanding project starts through public-private partnership

JAXA’s Tsukuba Space Center owns Japan’s largest environmental test facilities, including large and small vibration test facilities, and machines for acceleration testing, vacuum testing and many others. These testing facilities and technologies play an essential role in supporting the successful completion of our missions for various purposes that are becoming increasingly challenging.

We have decided to make our environmental test technologies and functions available not only to the space development sector but also to other industries, and thus, we signed a business agreement with Advanced Engineering Services Co., Ltd. (AES) in April 2020. This agreement adopted a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, representing a first in JAXA, to entrust facility operation over five years up to March 2025.

PPP generally refers to approaches for involving private capabilities in providing public services, based on the concept of utilizing private resources and knowhow to improve the operational efficiency and quality of public services.

Spacecraft must undergo various environmental testing before launch to ensure that they will function properly under the severe conditions of outer space. In recent years, demand for environmental testing has been increasing in non-aerospace fields, and JAXA is receiving a larger number of users of its facilities from many industries in addition to the space sector.

We believe that the PPP scheme will allow us to adopt skills and practices of private business management to maintain facility performance and raise operational efficiency. Under the business agreement, facility operating rights have been granted to related companies, who will develop proactive management strategies for our facilities, drawing on their private business networks and knowhow, and broadening the user base.

We will promote this environment test facility utilization expanding project through applying private business management skills and practices, with a view to facilitating the usage of the facilities by various industries, one of the key tasks set for JAXA’s medium- to long-term plans/goals, and through this initiative we aim to contribute to Japan’s science and technology development.

Establishment of Intellectual Property Policy

JAXA has established the JAXA Intellectual Property Policy to clarify its approach toward intellectual property (IP) and related activities.

The objective of JAXA’s IP activities is to help the organization serve the following purposes (as described in the preface of the medium- to long-term plan): strengthen Japan’s industrial and science and technology foundations; ensure security capabilities and support public security; facilitate space use and promote the aerospace industry; create world-class achievements in the space and astronautical science and space exploration fields; maintain and increase Japan’s international presence; and enable effective and efficient efforts in the aviation industry to promote growth and increase international competitiveness.

To the above end, the IP Policy provides action guidelines for JAXA and its employees to follow to act and behave properly when handling IP issues related to their duties. The descriptions are not only about acquisition and licensing of patent rights, but also about open-and closed strategies for the identification, protection and social application of IP assets and rights, which are designed so as to meet the characteristics of tasks performed to fulfill JAXA’s key missions, particularly relating to security capabilities, industry promotion and major discoveries resulting from space and astronautical science and space exploration activities.

To ensure security capabilities, JAXA will properly manage IP assets related to Japan’s national security. In the area of industry development, JAXA will establish IP rights to its technological achievements to transfer them into private hands appropriately. We will pursue this activity in order to facilitate application of our research and development results to create new businesses and open innovations, hoping that as many of our achievements as possible can contribute to Japan’s economic growth. For the purpose of sharing its discoveries from space and astronautical science and space exploration activities, JAXA will publish them as IP assets and work with the academic sector so that the information can be utilized in many different scientific fields to contribute to the world-leading breakthroughs presenting a new step of the intellectual progress of humankind.

And, we will communicate to the public about these IP assets in an easy-to-understand manner, while abiding by the related action guidelines, seeking to enhance the public understanding of the significance of aerospace exploration and exploitation efforts and the value of fruits from such efforts. JAXA will continue with these activities, aiming to receive further understanding and support from society at large.


In closing, I would like to touch on the recent news of the successful US commercial human spaceflight mission. In the very early hours of May 31, Japan time, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched Crew Dragon’s second demonstration (Demo-2) flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and later on the same day Crew Dragon docked to the International Space Station (ISS). This success marks the first American manned space mission after the last retirement of a space shuttle orbiter. I immediately sent my congratulations to Mr. James Bridenstine, NASA’s Administrator, on the epoch-making event. And I would like to take this opportunity to share my congratulations on the historic accomplishment with you.

Achieving this success, SpaceX has taken a solid step forward to its first operational Crew Dragon (Crew-1) mission with Soichi Noguchi, Japanese astronaut, on board. JAXA will make ongoing, all-out efforts to ensure successful launch operations, including rigorous safety evaluation, in order to contribute to the ISS activities.