JAXA President Monthly Press Conference March 2021

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. on March 19 (Fri), 2021
Venue: Online
MC: Akitaka Kishi,Manager,Media Relations Division,Public Affairs Department

10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake

March 11, 2021 marks 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. I would like to express heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families. I know there are many people who suffered from the disaster and are still going through hardships. My sincere sympathy goes out to all of them.

Following the disaster, JAXA provided disaster relief using aerospace technology. This included the provision of a communication environment by the Engineering Test Satellite VIII "KIKU No.8" (ETS-VIII) and the Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite "KIZUNA"(WINDS), cooperation in measuring radiation around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant by experimental aircraft, and emergency observations by the Advanced Land Observing Satellite "Daichi” (ALOS). The Daichi satellite took emergency images at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and provided information to the government and local governments, contributing to information gathering by government information. Two months after the support, the operation of the Daichi satellite ended in May 2011. I feel once again that “Daichi” played a great role before ending its operation.
In the wake of this great disaster, Earth observation satellites have come to play an increasingly important role in disaster management and disaster mitigation, in addition to disaster response. In 2017, satellites were specified as one of the means of information gathering in the government's Basic Disaster Management Plan. In addition, JAXA has concluded agreements with the government’s disaster management-related organizations including the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as well as local governments, to promote the use of satellites as a social infrastructure for disaster management. Specifically, we conduct emergency observations at the time of a disaster, including examining flooded areas caused by heavy rain, identifying landslide areas, and continuous monitoring after an earthquake. In this way, we build a framework for providing observation data to the government and municipalities and provide observation data.
Our efforts to prevent and mitigate disasters are not limited to Japan, but also include international activities such as “Sentinel Asia,” an international cooperation project for disaster management in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the International Charter, “Space and Major Disasters” a collaborative effort of 17 space agencies around the world. We also hope to improve the reliability of Japan's earth observation technology.

Moreover, we have the "GSMaP," which provides prompt information on the distribution of rainfall around the world for use by the general public, and "Today's Earth - Japan," which enables real-time monitoring of river flow rates and estimated inundation areas throughout Japan as the new disaster prevention system,.
Not only in the field of space but also in the field of aviation, many airplanes engaged in relief activities following the Great East Japan Earthquake. This has led JAXA to the development and promotion of “D-NET,” an integrated disaster and crisis management operation system that enables more efficient relief activities by sharing information between aircraft and disaster headquarters on the ground in the event of a disaster.

In the future, we plan to launch the Advanced Land Observing Satellite "Daichi-3" in fiscal 2021, and the Advanced Radar Satellite "Daichi-4" in fiscal 2022.
“Daichi-3” will maintain the wide observation range (70 km at nadir) of “Daichi” (the first satellite), while improving the ground resolution by about three-times (2.5 m to 0.8 m at nadir) that of “Daichi.” In addition, we believe that the situation of collapsed buildings and broken roads will be more clearly visible. “Daichi-3” will be able to observe an disaster area within about 24 hours after a disaster by changing its attitude.
Moreover, "Daichi-4" will maintain the high spatial resolution (3 meters) of "Daichi-2," which is currently in operation, while expanding its observation range by four times (200 km) that of “Daichi-2.” This 200 km observation range is equivalent to the width of Kyushu in the east-west direction, which means that almost the entire width of Kyushu can be observed at one time, improving the frequency of observations of crustal and ground deformation during normal times. As this will enable “Daichi-4” to play an important role in disaster mitigation efforts, not only in assessing the situation after a disaster occurs, but also in early detection of abnormalities such as volcanic activity, land subsidence, and landslides, we are currently preparing for the development of the system.
In order to make effective use of the data observed during a disaster, it is important to compare it with the data before the disaster occurred. We believe that it is important to make repeated observations during normal times and to make long-term efforts to accumulate data.
JAXA will continue its observations and focus on improving observation techniques to provide useful data to society.

Results of Cryogenic propellant filling test

From March 17 (Wed) to 18 (Thu), we conducted a cryogenic propellant filling test for the H3 Launch Vehicle Test Flight No. 1.
There are two important milestones for the launch of the H3 rocket: one is the qualification test of the LE-9 engine, and the other is the integrated system tests at the Tanegashima Space Center. The cryogenic propellant filling test conducted this week is one of the latter integrated system tests. The purpose of this test is to confirm the functionality by combining the fuselage and the launch site facilities as a rehearsal before the launch, and to confirm the workability and procedures by executing the operations on the launch day from the beginning to almost the end. The H3 Launch Vehicle was transported to Tanegashima and all stages were assembled for the first time, which was one of the largest development tests to date.
By the evening of March 18, the H3 Launch Vehicle was returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), and the series of inspection processes were successfully completed. Detailed analysis of the acquired data is currently underway. We are very relieved for the time being to have completed the inspection process.
Following this inspection, the test to acquire technical data for the LE-9 first stage engine will soon be resumed at the Tanegashima Space Center. Toward the launch scheduled for the next fiscal year, we will continue to face major challenges such as the completion of the development of the first stage engine and the Captive Firing Test (CFT) to actually fire an engine, but all related parties will work together to continue developing the H3 Launch Vehicle for a successful launch of the rocket.

International Cooperation with Indian Space Research Organization and the Paraguayan Space Agency

International cooperation with space agencies of various countries is very important for JAXA's business activities. Today, I would like to introduce JAXA's international cooperation with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Paraguayan Space Agency.
First of all, regarding our cooperation with India, last week on March 11, we had an online meeting with Dr. K. Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), for the first time in two and a half years. This year marks the fifth year since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for an inter-agency cooperation between ISRO and JAXA in 2016. The two agencies confirmed that we have deepened our mutual understanding and expanded cooperation in exploration and earth observation, and that we will continue to deepen cooperation in the future.
In the field of lunar exploration, we are conducting the Joint Lunar Polar Exploration mission for the purpose of exploring resources, which is an important step toward sustainable activities on the Moon. ISRO is mainly responsible for the development of a lander, while JAXA is mainly responsible for the development of a rover, which will be used to move around on the Moon, and launching them by the H3 rocket. We will soon be able to move on to the preliminary design phase.
We are also collaborating on scientific data. ISRO is studying the atmospheric structure of Venus by using observation data from JAXA's Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI.”
In the field of Earth observation, the two agencies are also expanding cooperation in using satellite data. We are currently conducting research on improving data accuracy and providing data for the entire Asian region by mutually using data from Indian satellites and JAXA satellites. With this, for example, we are aiming to utilize such data to monitor heavy rainfall by using rainfall estimation data and rice-crop outlook by using agricultural weather data. Taking the opportunity of this meeting advantage, both agencies signed “Implementation Arrangement (IA) on rice crop planted area monitoring and air quality monitoring.” The two agencies will jointly conduct research to improve the data accuracy on the yields of paddy rice, which is a staple food in Asia, as well as aerosols, which impacts air quality.
Next, I would like to talk about the cooperation with the Paraguayan Space Agency. On March 14, through the “BIRDS project,” a microsatellite development project promoted by the Kyushu Institute of Technology, the first satellite of the Republic of Paraguay, "GuaraniSat-1 (GuaraniSat Uno)," was deployed from the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” of the International Space Station (ISS).
At the time of the satellite deployment, President Díaz of the Paraguayan Space Agency, which developed the satellite, called out "Go" to indicate the completion of preparation. We also received a video message from Paraguay's Ambassador to Japan His Excellency Mr. Raúl Florentin Antola. In this way, the entire country of Paraguay was involved in this project. JAXA also took the opportunity of the deployment to sign a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the Paraguayan Space Agency to discuss the possibility of cooperation.
Through cooperation with various countries in various fields, JAXA will continue to share our interests at the top management level, and will continue to conduct our business efficiently and effectively.

Update on Astronaut Noguchi's ISS Activities

Astronaut Noguchi conducted Extravehicular Activitie(EVA) from March 5 to March 6 (Japan Standard Time).
In the past, Astronaut Noguchi performed three EVAs on the STS-114 "International Space Station Assembly Mission" aboard the Space Shuttle “Discovery” in 2005. He accumulated 20 hours and 5 minutes of spacewalk time in three EVAs. And the latest EVA in March was Astronaut Noguchi's fourth one, which is the most among Japanese astronauts.
In this EVA, Astronaut Noguchi installed a mount for the foundation in preparation for the installation of the new solar cell array. He successfully completed a 7-hour work. The current solar arrays are functioning well but have begun to show signs of degradation, as expected., NASA is planning to install small, high-efficiency solar arrays to augment the power supply for future operations. The latest mission was an important work to install the foundation for the solar arrays. The activities of Japanese astronauts have greatly supported the ISS operations, and I am very proud that they have reliably carried out their missions. Dr. Noguchi will continuously face important on-orbit experiments and works, but I am sure he will fulfill his mission by keeping his focus up to the end.

To Conclude

The re-entry capsule of “Hayabusa2” was open to the public at the Sagamihara City Museum from March 12 (Fri) to 16 (Tue). The re-entry capsule is next scheduled to be open to the public at the National Museum of Nature and Science from March 27 (Sat) to April 11 (Sun). Thanks to the cooperation of everyone involved, the “Hayabusa2 mission” was successfully completed, and we are now able to have the opportunity to show the re-entry capsule as one of its achievements to the public. I would like to once again express my sincere appreciation to everyone.
Next fiscal year, Astronaut Hoshide will be launched aboard the Crew Dragon Spacecraft (Crew-2) to start his long-term stay on the International Space Station. Astronaut Hoshide's launch is currently scheduled for April 22 or later. I will keep you updated as soon as the latest information becomes available. In addition, the launch of "Daichi-3" by the H3 Launch Vehicle Test Flight No. 1 and the launch of the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2 by the Epsilon Launch Vehicle are scheduled. We will continue to brace ourselves for successfully implementing these missions.