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ElevationSpace and JAXA Launch Co-Creation
Project for High Frequency Re-entry and Recovery Service from LEO

April 27, 2023 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
ElevationSpace Inc.

Tokyo, Japan, Apr.27, 2023 - ElevationSpace Inc.(“ElevationSpace”)※1 and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started a project of concept co-creation activities for a high frequency re-entry and recovery service from LEO(low Earth orbit) , under the JAXA Space Innovation through Partnership and Co-creation (a.k.a.J-SPARC)※2. ElevationSpace is the startup company that aims to expand the utilization of the space environment with small, uncrewed satellites,

This J-SPARC project aims to further expand space utilization and build an infrastructure to maximize the value of the microgravity environment by realizing a new "return flight" from space to Earth.

Recently, with the rise of private rocket launch operators, the number of "outbound flights" (cargo transport) from Earth to space is steadily increasing, but the number of "return flights" (cargo recovery) is not.

There is a demand for conducting frequent cycles of analyzing experiments on the ground in a short period of time after conducting them in microgravity environments, as well as for quickly recovering the manufactured materials back to Earth. As the use of microgravity environments becomes more popular, the demand for higher frequency and easier-to-use "return flights" is expected to increase.

In this co-creation activity, we aim to build an infrastructure to maximize the value of the microgravity environment by materializing a new "return flight" from space to Earth. These efforts will lead to an increase in companies entering the field of space and improve the competitiveness of domestic suppliers in Japan, contributing to further innovation.

ElevationSpace is developing "ELS-R", a service to launch satellites for conducting experiments on board, and bringing back the result to Earth. Building on the design, development, and operational know-how of this service, we will consider a high-frequency re-entry and recovery system from LEO(low Earth orbit) to Earth.
In addition, we aim to implement this project as a service provided by Japan in cooperation with the Mitsui & Co. group※3, which has a Japan Module Concept※4.

In the KOUNOTORI7 (HTV7) mission carried out in 2018, JAXA succeeded in demonstrating its technology to recover goods from the ISS by using the HTV Small Re-entry Capsule (HSRC). Subsequently, the Agency conducted the Research on Atmospheric Entry-Descending-Landing and Recovery (EDL&R) Technologies as one of its internal research activities to develop element technologies necessary for a small and high frequency recovery system. In this co-creation activity, JAXA will give technical advice based on the expertise gained through the research and make examinations for the on-orbit demonstration of the element technologies. These efforts will contribute not only to the realization and sophistication of the co-creation activity but also to the technology acquisition for manned re-entry vehicles, which will become necessary for JAXA in the future.

※1 About ElevationSpace
ElevationSpace Inc. is the startup company from Tohoku University that aims to create a world where everyone lives in space and elevate the future of humankind. We are developing the space environment utilization and recovery platform, “ELS-R”, which can conduct experiments and manufacture products inside our satellite.

※2 About J-SPARC
JAXA Space Innovation through Partnership and Co-creation (J-SPARC) was started through dialogue between JAXA and companies in the private sector that aim for space business. Based on their respective commitments to the implementation of space projects, JAXA and the companies will jointly make examinations for a business concept and develop and demonstrate technologies in an exit-oriented manner toward gaining new technologies for the creation of a new business. This co-creative R&D program was launched in May 2018, and so far under the program, about a total of 40 projects and activities were conducted, which also contributed to the launch (commercialization and start of service) of various businesses by companies in the private sector, including those related to food, daily goods, education, VR, entertainment, avatar, communication and small satellite constellations. For the co-creation of a business concept, activities such as market research and concept examination will be conducted, and for the joint demonstration of a new business, activities such as joint feasibility study for commercialization as well as joint technological development and demonstration will be conducted.

※3 Mitsui & Co. Group(Collaborator)
Mitsui & Co., LTD. External Link
Mitsui Bussan Aerospace Co., Ltd. External Link

※4 About Japan Module Concept
The Japan Module Concept is a project in which the Mitsui & Co. group aims to establish a new economic zone utilizing Japan's strengths by securing Japan's "place" in low Earth orbit through the possession and operation of the Japan Module, the successor to the ISS Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo".

<ElevationSpace Inc., Co-Founder & CEO, Ryohei Kobayashi>

“On the International Space Station(ISS), various experiments are being conducted in a microgravity environment," said Ryohei Kobayashi, CEO of ElevationSpace. “In the future, the utilization of the space environment is expected to expand, including conducting product development tests and producing high-quality materials that cannot be made on Earth. However, there are limited means of bringing back the products manufactured or experimented in space, and the timing of the return is not very flexible. I am pleased to collaborate with JAXA to create a new means of bringing back supplies from space to Earth, by leveraging the know-how of our space environment utilization and recovery platform, ‘ELS-R’”.

<JAXA, Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate, Human Spaceflight Technology Center, 
Seiji Kamiyoshi>

The “High frequency re-entry and recovery services from LEO (Low Earth Orbit)” represents a globally unique initiative. We feel very glad that the effective use of the HTV Small Re-entry Capsule can help accelerate the launch of businesses by companies in the private sector. We also aim to gain technologies for future manned re-entry vehicles, for which we will take the opportunity of carrying out technological demonstrations in this co-creation activity toward verifying the feasibility of the re-entry and recovery technologies under development by JAXA. We will make an all-out effort to make the project a truly meaningful one.