JAXA President Monthly Press Conference December 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 December 10 (Fri), 2021
Venue: Online
MC: Kaori Sasaki, Director, Public Affairs Department

Operation of the RApid Innovative payload demonstration SatellitE-2 (RAISE-2)

On November 9, the fifth Epsilon Launch Vehicle (Epsilon-5) carrying the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2 was launched from the Uchinoura Space Center (USC), and the satellite was injected into its scheduled orbit.

“The Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2” is part of the “Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program,” which provides opportunities for on-orbit demonstrations of Japan's outstanding technologies and ideas, not only for satellites but also for parts and components. The Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-2 is carrying 9 satellites and 14 demonstration themes, including the first satellite developed by students at a technical college in addition to those developed by companies and universities.

JAXA is in charge of the operation of the “RApid Innovative payload demonstration SatellitE-2” (RAISE-2), which is equipped with six demonstration themes of parts and components. As we announced in our press release on November 22, we have completed the critical operations phase to confirm the normal operation of the power supply and communication systems, and are now shifting to the in-orbit checkout phase. In the in-orbit checkout phase, we are currently checking the operation of six demonstration theme devices.

The RAISE-2 is scheduled to conduct on-orbit demonstrations of each demonstration device over the next one year.
In the next fiscal year, we plan to launch the "Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration- 3.” The Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration- 3 consists of 15 demonstration themes and 9 satellites, of which, we have already received the flight models of 7 components, including parts, components and subsystems. The development of the “RApid Innovative payload demonstration SatellitE-3,” which will carry these, is also underway.
Through this program, we will continue our efforts to expand space utilization and develop the Japanese space industry.

Observation of Drift Pumice Distribution Across the Open Ocean by the Global Change Observation Mission - Climate "SHIKISAI" (GCOM-C)

The August eruption of Fukutoku-Okanoba, a submarine volcano south of the Ogasawara Islands, caused pumice to drift to Okinawa, Kyushu, and the Izu Islands. I am reminded of the fact that events caused by natural activities such as this one can have a significant impact on the social environment, and I would like to express my sympathy to those who have been affected by this disaster.

JAXA analyzes the distribution of pumice stones drifting on the surface of the sea based on observation images taken by "SHIKISAI" and the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 "DAICHI-2" (ALOS-2), which are currently in operation, as well as observation images taken by the European optical satellite "Sentinel-2," and provides information to relevant disaster management agencies and public organizations.
In addition, since there are concerns about the widespread impact of the pumice, JAXA has opened a special website to the public since October 29, summarizing satellite information on the pumice to disseminate information widely, and posting reports continuously.
“SHIKISAI” has a wide swath width of 1,150 km, which cross-tracks to the satellite's path. In addition, the ocean reflects less sunlight than land, but the SHIKISAI is capable of observing the sea surface with high precision, which makes it an excellent tool for observing ocean conditions over a wide area such as the drifting pumice stones.
On the other hand, on days when clouds cover the sky, unfortunately the satellite is unable to observe what is going on under the clouds.
Under the circumstances, we are trying to increase the frequency of confirming the oceanic conditions by using “Sentinel-2” images observed at different times from those of “SHIKISAI.”
In addition, the radar satellite "DAICHI-2" has been conducting emergency observations in response to the pumice stones drifting and drifting ashore. As radar satellites can observe through clouds, they provide a means of observation that is not affected by weather conditions.
In this way, we are working to expand the range of applications of Earth observation data so that it can help solve problems in various fields by taking advantage of each satellite and combining their observation capabilities.

I would like to introduce one example of using information on pumice location by deciphering the observation images of “SHIKISAI” and “Sentinel-2.”
The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) has incorporated the latest pumice location information from satellites into its “drift prediction simulation.” In order to take countermeasures against pumice drift, it is important to know when and where the pumice will drift and wash ashore. The pumice location information observed by satellites is used to improve the accuracy of the simulation. JAMSTEC has also informed us that "the simulation calculation results have been improved by incorporating deciphered data from the satellites, and the simulation results have become closer to the actual drifting location confirmed.”

As in this case, we believe that satellite observation from space is effective in assessing the situation over a wide area and over a long period of time. We believe that providing useful information to as many users as possible in various situations is a JAXA’s important role. We would like to devise ways to provide users with easy-to-use satellite observation information by promoting cooperation with relevant organizations rather than JAXA alone.

Results of the 27th Session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-27)

The 27th Session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-27), co-organized by the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and JAXA, was for the first time held online for four days from November 30 to December 3 under the theme of "Expanding Space Innovation through Diverse Partnerships. We had 843 registered participants from 48 countries and regions, and thanks to the online effect, many people were able to see the event.
A four-day conference, including the working group sessions, was held for the first time in two years as the event had been postponed last year.

For the working group sessions during the first half of the two-day session, the number of fields was expanded to meet the needs of the Asia-Pacific region. As a result, a total of five working group sessions were held with the Space Policy and Law Working Group newly established in addition to four working groups in the past.
It was confirmed in these working group sessions, for example, that the use of satellite data for climate change adaptation, etc., will continue to expand on a multilateral basis. In addition, given the fact that the number of member organizations of the Kibo-ABC initiative, which promotes the use of the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" of the International Space Station (ISS) through projects such as robot programming contests and plant cultivation experiments, has increased dramatically, with an increase of seven organizations to a total of 19, the importance of the ISS was reaffirmed with the growing expectations for the use of “Kibo” in the Asia-Pacific region.
And in order to respond to the growing interest in space law policies in the region, the newly established Space Policy and Law Working Group held discussions on the latest space law policies in the Asia-Pacific region and agreed to extend the term of the "National Space Legislation Initiative (NSLI)" to start the second phase. The NSLI is an initiative dedicated to the field of space policy and law. After its launch at the 2019 APRSAF-26 session in Nagoya, the NSLI has conducted various activities. For example, nine participating countries jointly submitted a report on domestic space legislation to the Legal Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), chaired by Professor Setsuko Aoki of Keio University.

During the latter two days of the session, Space Industry Workshop was held for the first time in APRSAF prior to the plenary session. With the support of relevant government ministries and agencies, the Space Industry Workshop was co-hosted with private organizations to discuss the current status and future direction of space industry promotion in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition to governmental organizations, institutional investors from Europe and the U.S. and representatives of start-up companies active in the Asian region were invited as panelists, resulting in lively discussions from unprecedentedly diverse viewpoint.

On the first day of the plenary session, referring to the declaration on “climate change” by the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)” that "there is no doubt that human activities are causing global warming,” it was confirmed that researchers of Vietnam, Australia, India, France and Japan will continue to contribute to the study on climate change through the analysis of satellite data.

In the panel discussion on "Sustainable Utilization of Outer Space,” it was shared that it is important to establish rules related to space debris and space junk in order to ensure responsible activities by operators and to further promote commercial activities in the midst of the rapid expansion of space activities by the private sector.
In the panel discussion on "Space Innovation,” following the discussion in the Space Industry Workshop held before the plenary session, it was shared that the space industry is necessary for socio-economic development and that the evolving role of government agencies and public-private partnerships are important for space innovation.

Finally, a round table discussion by space agency heads and leaders was held with space agency heads (or their deputies) from 15 countries in attendance. During the round table discussion, comments on the theme of the APRSAF-27 and APRSAF were presented. The following were also reaffirmed: The “Nagoya Vision,” which is an initiative established in 2019 for the next 10 years with a view to the next 25 years, is making progress for the last two years; the four major goals of the vision remain important: (1) “Promoting the resolution of a wide range of terrestrial issues; (2) “Enhancing human resource development and science and technology capabilities; (3) Improving the ability to implement policies for common regional issues; (4) “Promoting the participation of new players in the region and various types of collaboration;” and the importance of continuing regional cooperation to achieve the goals. The session ended with a joint statement.
APRSAF is scheduled to be held in person in Vietnam next year and in Indonesia the year after that.
The plenary session and the Space Industry Workshop can be viewed through Video Archive.

One Year after “Hayabusa2” Returning to Earth

One year has passed since asteroid explorer "Hayabusa2" brought back samples of asteroid Ryugu to Earth on December 6 last year (2020).
From December last year to June this year, the samples were analyzed as part of the "Curation Activity Phase-1,” including taking out samples, sorting them, and analyzing their basic conditions. Since June this year, we have been conducting "Higher Curation Activity Phase-2” on the part of the samples for which the basic information has been sorted out, including acquiring data for high-level detailed descriptions of samples, developing more advanced curation techniques, an conducting "initial analysis" by dividing the samples into six analysis items. These six analysis items consist of: (1) chemical analysis; (2) stoney material analysis; (3) sandy material analysis; (4) volatile component analysis; (5) organic macromolecule analysis; and (6) soluble organics analysis. These analyses are progressing as scheduled, and researchers inside and outside of JAXA are now examining the content of the research results in order to compile and report them in a paper, etc., by next spring.

Also, under the collaboration with NASA, we were supposed to provide NASA with some of the samples from asteroid Ryugu. On November 30, we handed over them to NASA at the Johnson Space Center with good condition. The Johnson Space Center has a curation facility for extraterrestrial materials. Since the Apollo program, as NASA has acquired knowledge on extraterrestrial materials by conducting a lot of analysis and research, I have high expectations for NASA’s future analysis.

Around June next year (2022), we will publicly start the international announcement of opportunity (AO) for sample study to researchers around the world. We are steadily making preparations for this international invitation and plan to disclose a catalog of the samples provided for the international AOin January next year.

We also believe that one of JAXA's roles is to create opportunities for not only researchers but also many people to see the samples of Ryugu brought back by “Hayabusa2” and deepen their interest in space science and space exploration. Currently, we are putting samples on view with the cooperation of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and the Sagamihara City Museum. The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation kindly reported that a total of about 1,800 people visited the museum to see the samples on December 4 and 5. We will continue to consider ways to provide opportunities for people in other parts of Japan to see the samples.

In order to meet the world's expectations for small celestial body exploration that will lead to a better understanding of the formation of the solar system by further refining Japan's sample return technology cultivated by the “Hayabusa” (first asteroid explorer) and “Hayabusa2,” we will continue to contribute to international space exploration programs such as the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX), the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM), and the Artemis program.

Summary of This Year's Activities

This year, Japanese astronauts continuously stayed on the International Space Station (ISS), new spacecrafts flew to and from the ISS, and commercial flight by the private sector became more active, making manned space activities a focus of attention throughout the year. In JAXA, Astronaut NOGUCHI stayed on the ISS from November last year to May this year, and Astronaut HOSHIDE from April to November this year, performing a variety of missions. I believe that we were able to contribute to the international community through the activities of Japanese astronauts, including experiments and extravehicular activities on the ISS, the appointment of the second Japanese commander of the ISS, and communication events with people on the ground.
In addition, on December 20, 10 days from now, we will start accepting applications for new astronaut candidates for the first time in 13 years. In the future, JAXA will continue to work with international partners and industry to expand the scope of human activities from low Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.

In terms of contributing to the realization of a safe and secure society, JAXA's earth observation satellites are contributing to disaster relief. In addition to the pumice I mentioned earlier, we have responded to requests from the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and other government agencies, as well as local governments, for emergency observations during disasters such as typhoon, torrential rains, flood, landslide, volcanic eruption, earthquake, forest fire, and tsunami. At the same time, as a result of our research from the perspective of disaster prevention, we have developed the "Today's Earth-Japan" system, which enables real-time monitoring of the estimated flow rates of rivers and their inundation areas throughout Japan, in a joint research project with the University of Tokyo. We are now working to make more effective use of this system by confirming the possibility of issuing early warning information on levee breach point based on past typhoon cases.

From the standpoint of rocket launch, we have been providing demonstration opportunities using launches as well as launching satellites, etc. Specifically, the S-520-31 Sounding Rocket was used to conduct a space flight demonstration of a detonation engine system for deep space exploration; the SS-520-3 Sounding Rocket was launched from the Andøya Space Center, Svalbard Rocket Range in Norway to observe plasma outflow phenomena in the high-latitude ionosphere; the fifth Epsilon Launch Vehicle (Epsilon-5) carrying the Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration2 was launched; and the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 44 was used to launch the successor to the Quasi-Zenith Satellite-1 "MICHIBIKI”. We have successfully conducted all of them and believe that JAXA contributed to improving the reliability of Japanese rocket technology. On December 21, we are scheduled to launch a U.K. communications satellite by H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 45. We will carry out launch site operations toward the scheduled launch without letting our guard down.

In the field of space science and exploration, in addition to the achievements of “Hayabusa2,” the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter “Mio” is also making good progress on its voyage to Mercury. This past October, for the first time, we conducted a swing-by operation using the gravity of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, and observed Mercury as well.
“Hayabusa2” has been continuously operating as an extended mission aiming at two asteroids, to reach asteroid 2001CC21 around 2026 and asteroid 1998KY26 around 2031.

In the field of aviation, we have established a collaboration system to demonstrate the practical application of the Flight Demonstration of Quiet Technology to Reduce Noise from High-lift Configurations (FQUROH), a technology to reduce aircraft noise around airports, on a medium-sized passenger aircraft. We are also promoting the supersonic aircraft R&D by establishing a system of collaboration with domestic industry for the practical application. In addition to disaster relief, Disaster Relief Aircraft Management System (D-NET) is being used for security and vigilance at large-scale events. D-NET contributed to the establishment and operation of the security system led by the National Police Agency for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As the impact of COVID-19 continues this year, JAXA has been working on its projects for this year from the viewpoint of “With Corona,” while devising ways to work with all relevant parties.
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the people who helped us.
The feedback and encouragement we have received from many of you has been a source of strength for us. Thank you once again for your support.
Media outlets have also kindly reported many news on JAXA. Thank you very much for all your help throughout the year. Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation.
I know it's a little early, but I wish you a happy new year.