JAXA President Monthly Press Conference November 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 November 13 (Fri), 2020
Venue: Online
MC: Akiko Suzuki, Director, Public Affairs Department

Launch of the Crew Dragon Spacecraft with Astronaut Noguchi on board and Toward the Continuous Development of Manned Space Activities

Astronaut Noguchi arrived at the Kennedy Space Center, the launch site, at 3:45 a.m. on Monday, November 9 (Japan Standard Time). Astronaut Noguchi and the other four crewmembers are well prepared, and the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first operational Crew Dragon with Noguchi on board is under the final preparation for launch at Launch Pad 39A.

This is the third space flight for Astronaut Noguchi, and he will board the first operational Crew Dragon. In the last two space flights, Astronaut Noguchi was aboard the space shuttle and Soyuz spacecraft. He is the world first astronaut who will travel to the International Space Station aboard three different spacecrafts. Japan has six other active astronauts (seven, including Astronaut Noguchi) with extensive experience and knowledge of technology. JAXA is proud of Japan’s manned space technology it has developed, including the Japanese astronauts, the operation of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo,” and HTV’s rendezvous and capture technology, which are trusted by the world.
All the Japanese astronauts have reached the level of veteran astronaut, and it is essential to pass on their skills to the next generation in preparation for their eventual aging. As the minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology recently announced, JAXA will start recruiting new Japanese astronauts around the fall of next year for the first time in 13 years. I am glad that JAXA is able to provide concrete opportunities for those who have been aspiring to become astronaut. We also believe that this project will also give hope to children who want to go to space in the future.

Following the government's announcement of its participation in the Artemis program, JAXA aims to expand opportunities for Japanese astronauts to work on the “Gateway,” a manned lunar orbital base, and the lunar surface, in addition to the ISS. JAXA will work to ensure that Japanese astronauts can continue to perform in the international arena.

Launch of the Optical Data Relay Satellite

The “Optical Data Relay Satellite" equipped with the devices of the Laser Utilization Communications System (LUCAS) currently under development is scheduled to be launched by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 43 on Sunday, November 29.
The Laser Utilization and Communications System (LUCAS) consists of the communication system that connects the optical communication equipment aboard both the “Optical Data Relay Satellite” to be launched this time and user satellites orbiting the low Earth orbit, as well as ground stations.
With the Optical Data Relay Satellite, JAXA is planning to conduct a technical demonstration on optical Inter-orbit communications between optical communication equipment on board the Advanced Optical Satellite (ALOS-3) and Advanced Radar Satellite (ALOS-4), which are scheduled to be launched in 2021 or later.

The satellites that relay data are in geostationary orbit and serve as an intermediary for data communication between satellites in low Earth orbit and ground receiving stations.
Without the use of data relay satellite, direct communication between satellites in low Earth orbit and receiving stations on the ground is limited to about 10 minutes at a time. A data relay satellite, however, extends the range of possible communication with the ground, even in locations where a satellite in low Earth orbit and a ground receiving station cannot communicate directly.

JAXA acquired the practical technology needed for data relay and the world's first inter-satellite optical communication technology through the Data Relay Test Satellite "KODAMA" (DRTS) launched in 2002 and the Optical Inter-orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite "KIRARI" (OICETS) launched in 2005.

With the Laser Utilization Communications System (LUCAS), JAXA will continue and further develop these acquired technologies, aiming for "prolong communication time and improve immediacy" and "speed up data transmission and increase capacity".
The communication wavelengths to be used in optical communication are those used in fiber optic communications on the ground. By adopting the spin-in of technology established on the ground and effectively utilizing it in space, JAXA is developing with an eye on future development potential.

As society becomes more and more digitalized, JAXA aims to become the core of a high-speed space communication network that "supports a digital society from space" and will continue to conduct technological demonstrations for social implementation.

The Current Status of “Hayabusa2”

Finally, less than a month is left until the re-entry capsule from “Hayabusa2” scheduled for December 6.

“Hayabusa2” is currently traveling smoothly to the Earth about 8.5 million km far from the planet, and the Hayabusa2 system is going well.
On November 4, JAXA conducted a capsule separation operation rehearsal using the actual spacecraft, and yesterday, November 12, the agency conducted a second Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM-2) by chemical engine to return to the Earth. JAXA is currently in the process of checking the operational procedures one by one.

A total of 73 members of the capsule recovery team including 14 members of the advance team and 59 members of the main team have left Japan and are currently in quarantine in Adelaide, South Australia. The advance team will move to Woomera, the capsule recovery site, on November 16 next week. The team will first unpack items that arrived there and prepare for coordination with officials of Australian agencies who will cooperate with the capsule recovery. There are no problems with the health of the recovery team members.

The third Trajectory Correction Maneuver will be conducted between November 25 and 29 for the re-entry capsule to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.
If we can recover the capsule successfully, the gas in the sample container will be removed for a simple analysis in Australia. The sample will be transported by air to Japan and delivered overland to the clean room in the curation facility at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara. An initial confirmation such as optical observation, weight measurement and spectroscopic observation will be conducted at the facility.
In accordance with the agreement between JAXA and the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency, staff members will also come to Japan to conduct spectroscopic observation with a French-developed infrared microscope (MicrOmega). We are looking forward to these observations as it is very meaningful to obtain the observation results from the spectroscopic observation at such an early stage of initial confirmation immediately after sample recovery. The initial analysis team will start a specific analysis of the sample around June 2021.

NASA's spacecraft "OSIRIS-REx" successfully touched down on the asteroid “Bennu” on October 21 (JST). We would like to maximize the results of the “Hayabusa2” mission through scientific cooperation with “OSIRIS-REx,” exchanging asteroid samples and comparing and verifying the results.

I hope that the members of the Hayabusa2 project will be more united than ever to complete their mission to recover the re-entry capsule on December 6 and bring the sample back to Japan safely.
Thank you for your continued support.

Recent and Ongoing Dialogue with Major International Organizations

Autumn is a time when many international meetings are held every year. I have international dialogues with representatives of various countries by participating in international events and attending meetings with heads of space agencies.
I would like to share some of key events held recently.

“Science and Technology in Society forum” (STS forum) was held online this year during October 3 through 6. The forum brought together ministers of science and technology from about 100 countries and regions, as well as representatives from 20 international organizations, Every year, the event is held in Kyoto.
I participated in the panel discussion on October 5 with members of other science and technology organizations from various countries to discuss the role and advantage of space systems, such as observation, communication and positioning, and their contribution to humanity. I introduced the expected contribution of space systems to the fields of digitization, remoteness, autonomy and automation, especially the use of high-speed communication satellites in medicine and education.
Also on October 7, the “Space Economy Leaders Conference -Space20 -” was held online. The conference was led by Saudi Arabia as the chair of G20 and held for the first time for the heads of G20 space agencies.
I also participated as one of the heads of the G20 space agencies and spoke about “how the expansion of space economy plays an important role in the expansion of the global economy and the achievement of the SDGs.
On October 12, the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) was held online. I took the podium at the session of space agencies’ heads and introduced the highlights of JAXA’s 2020 activities such as the completion of the HTV mission, the scheduled return of Hayabusa2, and JAXA’s plans on international space exploration. We also set up JAXA’s booth in the virtual exhibition hall.

Besides international meetings, we also hold online talks with the heads of space agencies of various countries.
In October, I met with President Saccoccia of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and signed a new memorandum of cooperation between the two agencies The new memorandum of cooperation is for the continuation of the framework for cooperation established in 2010, and we confirmed that the two agencies will continue to work together in the future.
In a meeting with President Jean-Yves LE GALL of the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), we discussed and reviewed the progress status of cooperation projects between the two agencies, including the Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa2", the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX), and the Cooperative Action Leading to Launcher Innovation for Stage Toss-back Operation (CALLISTO).
In November, this week, I met with President Lisa Campbell of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) who took office in September, and Chair of the Executive Board Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) who took office in October. We confirmed that we will promote further cooperation under the new heads.

Although the world is still under various constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very important to take advantage of these opportunities for dialogue, discussion and exchange of ideas with foreign space agencies and other organizations, albeit online, in order for countries to cooperate and carry out sustainable space activities. We would like to continue these activities.

JAXA Symposium

As I informed last month, this year’s JAXA Symposium will be held online on November 21. On November 9, we also opened a special website to the public and issued a press release.
This year marks exactly the 50th anniversary since the launch of Japan’s first artificial satellite “OHSUMI,” which made Japan the fourth country in the world that launched an artificial satellite. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary since the launch of “OHSUMI,” we are planning to look back on the history of Japanese space development with the theme “Present and past stories of space development” and report on JAXA's present and future activities.
The symposium is composed of two parts. In the first part, astronauts and the studio MC will look back on the past, including the launch of “OHSUMI”, the development of rockets and participation in the ISS Program, with video interviews with people involved at that time. In the second part, we will present the latest information on the current JAXA, for example, the return of Hayabusa 2 and astronaut Noguchi's mission.
Also, the special website presents contents in addition to lectures at the symposium such as the virtual experience of the Tsukuba Space Center’s exhibition room "Space Dome" and the control room, as well as “Hayabusa2” touchdown simulation Augmented Reality (AR). We hope that people will view the symposium and enjoy it.