JAXA President Monthly Press Conference April 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 April 9 (Fri), 2021
Venue: Online
MC: Kaori Sasaki, Director, Public Affairs Department

Project Plan for FY2021

It is April and the fiscal year 2021 has just started. On April 1, 36 new employees joined JAXA. Through many experiences they are going to build up, I expect that they will acquire the ability to become professionals in the fields of space and aviation.
This fiscal year is the middle of the Fourth Mid-to-long-term Plan, which started in fiscal 2018. This is an important fiscal year for us to look back on the first half of the plan and connect it to the second half. I regard this fiscal year as a preparatory period for setting a direction for the future from the Fifth Mid-to-long term Plan and beyond.
In this important fiscal year, the budget for the current fiscal year was approved by the Diet on March 26, and JAXA received approval for the fiscal 2020 supplementary budget and the fiscal 2021 main budget, totaling 214.4 billion yen.
As I mentioned at the press conference in January this year, JAXA will continue to fulfill its responsibilities by sincerely addressing the growing expectations of stakeholders, including the public, the government, local governments, industry, and the academic research field, as well as the significant role that the aerospace business plays.
In this environment, I would like to introduce the status of some of the projects that we should continue to steadily implement this fiscal year.
First of all, the launch of Crew Dragon Spacecraft (Crew-2) with JAXA Astronaut Hoshide aboard and his long-duration stay on the International Space Station (ISS) are scheduled. Astronaut Noguchi's is also scheduled to return to Earth. In addition, the following are scheduled: the launch of "Daichi-3" (ALOS-3) by the H3 Launch Vehicle, the first test vehicle; the launch of the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2 by the Epsilon Launch Vehicle; and the launch of a sounding rocket.
As for the H3 rocket, we remain at the important stage of development.
The development of the Daichi-3 satellite is currently undergoing tests to see if the satellite system can withstand the launch environment, the vacuum environment in space, and the harsh environment with temperature differences. As this will be the first time for the H3 rocket, which will be the first test vehicle, to load the payload, this will be a major point in the preparation for the launch.
As for another satellite, the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2, we will launch a total of nine satellites, including the “RApid Innovative payload demonstration SatellitE-2 (RAISE-2),” which was developed by JAXA, four ultra-small satellites, and four CubeSats. Each satellite is currently undergoing flight model development tests, and we are now at the peak of the development process. The Epsilon Launch Vehicle will launch the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2, which will carry these nine satellites. The Epsilon rocket was last launched in January 2019, so this will be its first launch since then. JAXA is currently working together with related companies to steadily advance the launch preparation process.
Besides these launch projects, JAXA, as a research and development organization, would like to take the lead in research and technological development, and then deploy the results and value of our creation to society.
Today, I would like to introduce one of our partnerships with industry. Cooperation with industry is one of JAXA's main pillars. With the recent amendment to the “the Act on Activation of the Creation of Science and Technology Innovation” that came into effect on April 1, 2021, JAXA is now able to invest in and provide human and technical assistance to corporations that utilize the results of JAXA's research and development.
Based on the "Act on Activation of the Creation of Science and Technology Innovation,” three organizations are considered target recipients for investment. The first target recipient is ventures that utilize the research and development results of R&D corporations that make investment (so-called "ventures originating from R&D corporations"). The second is venture capital or funds (so-called venture capital companies) that provide necessary advice and funding to ventures originating from R&D corporations that make investments. The third is corporations that support the utilization of results.
In conjunction with the amendment, JAXA implemented a reorganization as of April 1, and appointed a director in charge of investment operations, and JAXA’s Business Development and Industrial Relations Department is in charge of the investment-related work. In addition to contributing to the maximization of JAXA's research and development results and the realization of social implementation, the purpose of this project is to contribute to the maintenance and strengthening of Japan's industrial competitiveness and industrial science and technology infrastructure, as well as to contribute to the creation of science, technology and innovation.
JAXA has been collaborating with various industries. This includes, for example: piggybacking a small satellite on board a rocket; satellite deployment from Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” on the International Space Station; and the provision of opportunities for space demonstrations such as the "Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program," of which I mentioned earlier on the second launch. In addition, we have been working on various projects such as the "Space Exploration Innovation Hub” for space exploration; the "Next Generation Aeronautical Innovation Hub" for aviation; and the "Space Innovation through Partnership and Co-creation (J-SPARC)," which is being promoted by the Business Development and Industrial Relations Department. In addition to these efforts, we would like to utilize this investment service as one of the measures for industrial promotion.

Status of Astronaut Noguchi's and Astronaut Hoshide's Activities

We have agreed with NASA to proceed with preparations for the launch of Crew Dragon Spacecraft (Crew-2) with Astronaut Hoshide aboard at 7:11 p.m. on April 22 (Thu)*1 (Japan Standard Time), and for Astronaut Noguchi's return to Earth at 1:35 a.m. on April 29 (Thu)*2 (Japan Standard Time). We will inform you of the final date and time when decided, depending on the operation status of the International Space Station.
If all goes according to the schedule, it will be the first time for the two Japanese expedition crews to stay on board the ISS at the same time. Both Astronauts Noguchi and Hoshide have a wealth of experience, and I am confident that they will contribute to the ISS mission by utilizing their respective strengths, and also work to enhance their international presence.
On board the ISS, preparations for the arrival of Crew-2 are being made. On April 5, in order to open the port where the Crew-2 Spacecraft is scheduled to dock to the ISS, the Crew-1 Spacecraft, which had been connected to the port, was once detached from the ISS and re-docked to another port (relocation). All the relocation process was automatically implemented from the detachment to re-docking and successfully completed. During the process, Astronaut Noguchi and four other crew members boarded the spacecraft because the Crew-1 spacecraft would return to the ground if it could not be reunited to the ISS as planned. While the operation was implemented with such thorough measures for safety and risk management, I am very relieved that the reconnection was successfully completed.
Astronaut Noguchi has less than a month left in space, and Astronaut Hoshide will be in space for about six months. I am confident that they will fully carry out their missions on behalf of the Japanese people and also provide fruitful outcomes to the ISS international partners.

*1 and *2: as of April 9

Establishment of Ultra-Small Satellite Human Resource Development Program

JAXA has been deploying ultra-small satellites since 2012 by taking advantage of the features of the robotic arm and airlock of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" of the International Space Station. A total of 52 satellites have been deployed by JAXA's JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) so far. Of these satellites, more than half are foreign ultra-small satellites. For example, the Costa Rican satellite "Irazu" and the Rwandan satellite "RWASAT-1" are their first satellite in their countries. In this sense, I believe that the project has been successful in terms of human resource development and contributing to the SDGs.
In addition, in September 2015, JAXA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs launched the “KiboCUBE,” a collaborative program as a capacity-building initiative. “KiboCUBE” provides educational institutions and research institutions in developing countries that do not have launch capabilities with the opportunity to deploy ultra-small satellites from the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo. In the collaborative program with the UN, we have already succeeded in deploying ultra-small satellites of the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Guatemala. We have selected ultra-small satellites of the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Moldova, which are scheduled to be deployed in the future.
In December last year, we extended our partnership agreement with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and agreed to add more opportunities to deploy satellites, as well as to collaborate on the “KiboCUBE Academy,” which will provide opportunities to learn about the entire life cycle of the development, operation and utilization of ultra-small satellite. We are currently opening the sixth round of “KiboCUBE” and holding online courses.
In April, we also launched a new initiative "J-CUBE," which provides universities in Japan with the opportunity to deploy ultra-small satellites. The purpose of the initiative is to strengthen the technological capabilities of universities in Japan and to enhance their human resource base through international contributions based on their technological capabilities. We have been collaborating with universities in Japan such as the University of Tokyo, Kyushu Institute of Technology, Tohoku University, and Hokkaido University as strategic partners. This initiative will expand our activities to include a wider range of universities.
I mentioned three initiatives: the “KiboCUBE Academy” for learning about ultra-small satellites; the “KiboCUBE,” the collaborative program with the United Nations to try out the development and operation of ultra-small satellites; and the “J-CUBE” program to further develop ultra-small satellite programs in Japan. The three mechanisms will be integrated into a "human resource development package through the deployment of satellites from ‘Kibo.’” In implementing the package, we have concluded a new agreement to collaborate with the University Space Engineering Consortium (UNISEC), a non-profit organization.
UNISEC is a specified nonprofit organization (NPO) that aims to support the realization of practical educational activities in the field of space engineering by students of universities and colleges of technology (technical college). Many of the universities that have deployed ultra-small satellites in the past are also members of UNISEC. It is expected that UNISEC will utilize its accumulated knowledge and experience in satellite development technology and small satellite utilization to strengthen its satellite development capabilities, including overseas.
JAXA will continue to promote the use of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" and contribute to the SDGs through human resource development by further strengthening cooperation with UNISEC and other universities and organizations in Japan and overseas that are promoting the development of ultra-small satellites.