JAXA President Monthly Press Conference July 2022

JAXA President Monthly Press Conference

Speech Abstracts by Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of JAXA
Date and time: From 1:30 - 2:15 p.m. on July 15 (Fri), 2022
Venue: Online
MC: Kaori Sasaki, Director, Public Affairs Department

1. Launch Schedule of Two Sounding Rockets S-520-32 and S-520-RD1

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) postponed the launch of the S-520-32 Sounding Rocket, scheduled for July 10, 2022. This decision was related to the technical issue identified in the observation equipment to be mounted and that will likely require a substantial period of time to investigate the cause. Given this situation, we have decided to postpone the initial launch period scheduled for between July 10 and 17, and set a new schedule for the launch to come after that of the S-520-RD1 Sounding Rocket.

In association with the postponed launch of S-520-32, we have decided to reschedule the launch of S-520-RD1 from July 23 to 24. This change is needed chiefly to make appropriate arrangements for the two rockets to use a common rocket range at the Uchinoura Space Center. We apologize to local organizations and other related parties for the inconvenience caused by a series of the recent changes, and we also appreciate their kind understanding and support.

JAXA will devote its utmost efforts to achieve the objectives of these projects.

2. Progress of Firing Test of the H3 Launch Vehicle’s First Stage Engine

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) provides an update on the progress of development of the LE-9 first stage engine for the H3 launch vehicle.

We have recently completed a series of related tests at the Tanegashima Space Center. A total of six tests were conducted for two major purposes: 1. blade vibration tests for verifying the planned countermeasures against serious issues identified in the turbo pump; and 2. technical data collection for verifying the functionality and performance of 3D-modelling injectors to be used for Test Flight No.2 and the subsequent flights of H3 Launch Vehicle, with the aim of reducing costs.

Based on the results of these tests, we will conduct a qualification firing test for the LE-9 engine on or after July 20, 2022 at the Tanegashima Space Center. We aim to determine the countermeasures to address the LE-9 engine-related issue to be implemented for the first test flight of H3, and will develop specific launch plans based on results of the qualification test.

Also, an independent turbo pump test is underway at the Kakuda Space Center to verify other countermeasures planned in addition to those subjected to blade vibration tests in Tanegashima

We have conducted two tests (July 3 and 9) and are proceeding with detailed evaluations of collected data.

3. Selection Result of the 2nd Call for RFP for Research on Space Transportation Technology

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) promotes research on space transportation technology with two major objectives: 1. ensuring Japan’s independent space transportation systems; and 2. establishing innovative technologies particularly to achieve a substantial cost reduction for space transportation systems in order to allow private organizations to develop related businesses on their own, seeking to form and capture new space transportation markets.

This research program is designed to invite many organizations from a broad range of industrial, academic and government sectors to participate in collaborative open innovation activities. Individual projects are organized to deal with technology development challenges both in the field of space exploration and a diverse spectrum of on-the-ground fields as common themes. This is for expediting overall development processes while capitalizing on outcomes of dual-porpose projects to build technologies that can be deployed in space and on-the-ground activities alike. In 2022, the second call for request for proposal (RFP) was placed for a period between March 1 to May 6, and 15 projects have been selected from applications received.

The target technology of the second RFP is directed at weight saving and manufacturing cost reduction for tank and other large-size structures and ultralow temperature-resistant components, which will be a key technology. Applications were called for in each of the three categories set according to development stages―Challenging Research, Ideals Incubating Research, and Solution Creating Research. Challenging Research projects aim to enhance the applicability of challenging technologies. Ideals Incubating Research projects conduct examination of the possibility of implementing plans to leverage innovative technologies in order to effectively solve problems and achieve the marketability of the target technologies. For Solution Creating Research, a new category started from the recent RFP, projects are selected to commit to providing specific solutions to technical challenges. To be qualified, applicants need to have a considerable chance of commercializing aimed solutions within around two years after the end of the joint research period, which can be extended up to three years. This means that Solution Creating Research projects will seek to achieve commercialization in a maximum of five years.

From among all applications received for Solution Creating Research, three projects have been selected to work on the two themes: manufacturing technology for large-size, ultralow temperature-resistant propellant tanks using carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP); and manufacturing technology for large-size, ultralow temperature-resistant propellant tanks using metal additive manufacturing technique. Each project is expected to accomplish the goals set for solving problems.

In the first call for RFP for research on space transportation technology, 21 projects were selected to engage in feasibility study on new element technologies for applicability to reusable launch vehicles. Relevant research activities are underway, borrowing technologies from many different fields, such as aerospace engineering techniques for the purpose of developing necessary on-the-ground operation capabilities, and shipbuilding processes looking at vehicle recovery after splashdown. As a result of the second RFP recruitment, the joint research program on transportation technology has expanded to accommodate 36 projects in total.

As this program is advancing, an increasing number of corporate and other organizations from sectors that are not related to space transportation system development are showing interest in entering relevant technology research areas. Recognizing this, we will continuously endeavor to enhance structures for collaboration with business corporations and universities from various fields for the purpose of innovating space transportation systems, in an effort to expand space utilization.

4. International Dialogues with Major Space Agencies

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) held a couple of in-person dialogues with space agencies of other countries in June and July.

JAXA formed a partnership with CNES in the 1980s, which has continued to this day to promote cross-organizational collaborations for many missions. Major such cooperative efforts were made to: improve the accuracy of data obtained by each agency’s greenhouse gases observing satellite; adopt equipment developed by CNES to be mounted on the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) probe; and promote the CALLISTO trilateral project jointly with CNES and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which aims for reusable first stage functions of launch vehicles.

In the recent meeting with CNES, discussions were held on a number of topics related to the present and future situation of the interagency partnership as well as possible approaches to new forms of partnership.

I myself participated in the commemorative event taking place in Miraikan on June 30, presenting my expectations for future cooperation with CNES and contribution to the international society.

At the beginning of July, representatives of the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA) visited Japan to have a periodical interagency meeting. It was the first session organized based on the memorandum of cooperation (MOC) signed by the two agencies in June 2021.

In September 2021, after the MOC was concluded, the British government formulated the national space strategy, which specified JAXA, along with NASA, as a global partner in forging sustainable cooperative relationships. In January 2022, I was invited to give opinions at a British parliament session, an action conducive to stronger bilateral relations of trust.

In September 2021, after the MOC was concluded, the British government formulated the national space strategy, which specified JAXA, along with NASA, as a global partner in forging sustainable cooperative relationships. In January 2022, I was invited to give opinions at a British parliament session, an action conducive to stronger bilateral relations of trust.