JAXA President Monthly Press Conference October 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 October 9 (Fri), 2020
Venue: Online
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department

FY 2021 Budgetary Request

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) requested approximately 283.1 billion yen for JAXA for fiscal year 2021, the highest amount ever requested.
We would like to promote the role of JAXA in the New Basic Plan on Space Policy.
MEXT requested the budget needed for JAXA’s following projects: research and development for the participation in the U.S.-proposed international space exploration "Artemis program;" development of the H3 rocket and its payload, the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-4 (ALOS-4); and research and development of next generation aeronautical science and technology.

The Strategic Headquarters for Space Development decided Japan's participation in the “Artemis program” last October and it was included in the Basic Plan on Space Policy in June this year. The MEXT and NASA have been coordinating their efforts to flesh out the details of cooperation between Japan and the U.S., and a joint statement on lunar exploration cooperation was signed in July this year. Based on these efforts, MEXT requested a total of approximately 81 billion yen for “Artemis program”-related expenses, including the development of core equipment for a manned outpost orbiting the Moon (Gateway); the development of a new transfer vehicle (HTV-X) under development, which will be used as a Gateway cargo transporter; the development of the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM); the Lunar Polar Exploration mission (LUPEX); research and development for international space exploration; and research on open innovation in space exploration.

As for the H3 Launch Vehicle, we have just reviewed the development plan. In the next fiscal year, we will modify the design of the LE-9 engine to address a technical problem, conduct a certification test for the LE-9 engine, and conduct a comprehensive ground test for the first test vehicle aiming to ensure a reliable launch with thorough preparation. Approximately 20.6 billion yen was requested as the budget for this purpose.

Regarding the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-4 (ALOS-4), we are currently manufacturing and assembling a proto-flight model (PFM) of the satellite bus and mission equipment, as well as conducting a compatibility test with ground equipment. Approximately 15.7 billion yen was requested as the budget for the continuation of manufacturing the PFM of the satellite bus and mission equipment, as well as the development of ground equipment and tests, etc.

As for the research and development budget for next-generation aeronautical science and technology, approximately 4.4 billion yen, an about 0.8 billion yen increase compared to the previous fiscal year, was requested to promote the research and development of drag-reducing and lightweighting technologies that will significantly improve the fuel efficiency of aircraft, as well as the research and development of the electric and hybrid propulsion system to be used in emission-free (electricity-driven) aircraft, with the aim of decarbonizing the aviation sector as soon as possible.

In addition to these important existing projects, MEXT requested new budgets for JAXA for the "Hayabusa2 Extended Mission," which will operate the Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa2" after retrieving its capsule, the "Future Space Transportation System Research and Development Program," which is aimed at creating future space transportation system, and the "Small Technology Innovation Satellite Research and Development Program," which is aimed at acquiring innovative satellite development technologies for the future.

For the “Hayabusa2” extended mission, about 400 million yen was requested to acquire technical and scientific knowledge that will contribute to future deep space and long time flight technologies, as well as to increase activities that will contribute to strengthening Japan's international scientific competitiveness by using the exploratory technology to the fullest demonstrated by the exploration of asteroid “Ryugu.”

For the “Future Space Transportation System Research and Development Program,” about 300 million yen was requested considering that it is important to establish a future space transportation system based on innovative technologies, including drastic cost reduction, so that Japan can maintain its independent space transportation system as well as can create and capture a new space transportation market after the development of the H3 Launch Vehicle.

For the “Small Technology Innovation Satellite Research and Development Program,” about 600 million yes was requested as the budget necessary for the development of more challenging satellite technology in short cycle and its demonstration through small- and nano-satellites with the aim of developing satellites that will lead to shortening development period and cost reduction, as well as the innovation of manufacturing methods.

In conformity with the Basic Plan on Space Policy and JAXA’s Fourth Mid-to-long-term Plan, we are committed to realizing the roles and responsibilities given to us and continuing to promote research and development to meet the expectations of the public.

Conclusion of a Comprehensive Agreement withFukui Prefecture to Promote Research and Development of Aeronautical Science and Technology

JAXA is promoting the collaboration with local communities including municipalities across the country in the field of education and the utilization of satellite data. By inviting people from various industries not only in the fields of space and aeronautics, we are striving for the creation of innovation. Today, I would like to introduce an example of Fukui Prefecture.

Governor Sugimoto and Director General Harigae of JAXA's Aeronautical Technology Directorate signed a comprehensive agreement with Fukui Prefecture on September 14 to promote research and development in aeronautics science and technology. This is an initiative promoted by JAXA, which will lead to solving weather issues that have a significant impact on aircraft operations.
As the first activity to be undertaken with Fukui Prefecture under the comprehensive agreement, we will conduct a functional demonstration test of technologies for detecting snow and ice on runways (snow and ice monitoring system). The system is a technology that supports aircraft and airport operations from a standpoint of safety. The world's first sensor technology that continuously measures detailed snow accumulation and snow and ice conditions on the runway in real time will provide data that can contribute to a wide range of decisions such as reducing delays and cancellations of aircraft takeoffs and landings, reducing accidents, and ensuring that runway snow removal is carried out properly. The demonstration test is scheduled to be conducted around 2021 at Fukui Airport with the participation of companies in Fukui Prefecture specializing in snow and ice measurement technology for roads and railways.

Collaboration with local governments, which actively encourage businesses to enter the aerospace industry, is very important for JAXA, and we believe it is essential for the development and strengthening of Japan's aerospace industry.

BepiColombo Spacecraft’s Venus flyby and the Scheduled Joint Observations of Venus

“BepiColombo” is an international Mercury exploration project consisting of JAXA's Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter “MIO”(MMO) and European Space Agency (ESA)’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO).
“BepiColombo” was launched in October 2018 and is scheduled to arrive at Mercury in December 2025. During the seven-year cruise, this spacecraft will perform a total of nine flybys to change its orbit: flyby the Earth once, flyby Venus twice and flyby Mercury for six times. This is a world record number of flyby for a planetary exploration spacecraft.
The next Venus flyby is scheduled for October 15 next week. It will make its closest approach to Venus at around 12:58 p.m. (JST) and will pass the planet at an altitude of about 11,000 km. The Venus flyby will shift the “BepiColombo” spacecraft's orbit further into the solar system and closer to the Sun.
In parallel with the Venus flyby by BepiColombo, we are planning to conduct joint observations of Venus by JAXA's Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI", the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory "HISAKI" for a week before and after the flyby.
The Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI" is currently orbiting Venus with an 11-day cycle, and is observing the temperature distribution of clouds over Venus with the onboard Mid-Infrared Camera. It is also observing strong winds that whip in a wide range of area over the planet, far exceeding the speed of Venus's rotation, which are called atmospheric super-rotation, using the onboard ultraviolet imager. Meanwhile, “HISAKI” from an orbit around the Earth is observing the thin atmosphere and ionosphere of Venus using ultraviolet spectroscope, which are located even higher from the Venusian atmosphere. This is the first time in the world that three of Japan’s spacecraft missions, BepiColombo, AKATSUKI and HISAKI, will jointly realize simultaneous planetary observations.
JAXA's Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter "MIO" is equipped with plasma observation equipment, which enables us to measure the space environment around Venus. We believe that it will be possible to analyze by combining the results of the detection of plasma particles in the Venusian periphery by “MIO” and the results of the monitoring of the Venusian ionosphere by “HISAKI.” The ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) is also equipped with both infrared and ultraviolet cameras. They cover a wider range of wavelengths than those covered by JAXA's “AKATSUKI” and “HISAKI,” so we think the MPO will be able to observe the planet from different altitudes. In this way, the combination of the “BepiColombo,” “AKATSUKI,” and “HISAKI” spacecrafts and their observation equipment will enable us to observe the Venus atmosphere from lower to upper layers, outer ionosphere, and plasma at the same time, which is expected to lead to new insights and results that have never been seen before. After we obtain results from the observations, we would like to introduce them through a press release or other means.

Astronaut Noguchi's Boarding Crew Dragon

During a press conference for the four crew members of the first operational Crew Dragon held at NASA on September 30 (JST), it was announced that the name of the spacecraft, which will be the first operation of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, has been decided to be “Resilience.”
Astronaut Noguchi was also mentioned during the press conference. The four crew members have demonstrated their experience, diversity, and collaboration to overcome difficult situations through rigorous training, which is represented by the word “resilience.” Due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, humanity is now facing various difficulties. This is a reminder that JAXA must face these challenges in the field of aerospace and contribute not only to Japan but also to the world.
The scheduled launch time on October 31(as of October 9*)is midnight at the launch site but it is 3:40 p.m. in Japan, which we think a very good time to get everyone's support. We hope that the flight of the four crew members including Astronaut Noguchi who are taking on the first mission of the civilian spaceship will be the first step into the new era of space.

Holding Online Events

We have made the decision to cancel or postpone JAXA’s events to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus infection. As we schedule several events to be held online, I would like to introduce them.

First of all, the “Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF),” which was originally scheduled to be held in Vietnam in October this year but has been postponed. The 27th meeting is postponed till next year (2021), and a special four-hour online conference will be held on November 19 this year. In addition to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and JAXA, the online conference will be hosted by four countries including Singapore, which hosted the event the year before last, and Vietnam and Indonesia, which are scheduled to host the event next year and thereafter.
This year's theme is "Sharing Space Visions Beyond Distance.” As opportunities for people to meet are significantly limited, there is a meaning behind the theme that we hope to share our vision of the space field beyond the distance.
In the midst of the global difficulties caused by the new coronavirus, we regard the current situation as an opportunity to take a fresh look at how space activities benefit society and people's lives. We plan to have more than a dozen heads of space agencies in the Asia-Pacific region share their visions and discuss various issues.

Secondly, we will hold the "Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Workshop 2020” online from November 5 to 6. The event was originally scheduled to be held in March this year but has been postponed.
In this event, we will report on the results of the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-1,” which was launched in January last year, and introduce the future role of the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program.” We hope that many people including those who are considering participating in the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program and those who are interested in the technology of the demonstration theme will view this event.

Finally, we will hold this year's JAXA Symposium online on November 21.
This year marks the 50th anniversary since the launch of “OHSUMI,” Japan's first and the world's fourth artificial satellite. We would like to look back on the history of Japan's space development under the theme of "Stories of Space Development Now and Then" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the launch of “OHSUMI.” In addition, the return of the Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule to Earth will then be just around the corner, so we'll cover that topic as well. We aim to create a virtual venue on the Internet and hold a new type of symposium combined with realistic talks. Stay tuned for this year's challenging symposium by JAXA. We will give you more details on another occasion.

We hope you will be able to participate in every event.