JAPAN SPACE PROGRAMME

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The beginning of the Japan space programme can be traced back to the mid-1950s when a research group led by Hideo Itokawa at the University of Tokyo. Initially, the size of the rocket designed by the Japan space programme was less than 30cm (12inches), then it increased to over 15m (49ft) in the mid-1960s. The primary goal of this original research was to successfully launch a man-made satellite.


By the 1960s, two organizations have been created for space activities and its regulations and these organizations are the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS).

The National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) was already designing and building its own rocket at the time. As a result of numerous failures in the 1990s and 2000s, the two organizations; NASDA and ISAS, merged along with the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) to form the unified Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in October 2003.


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is in charge of research, technology development and launch of satellites into orbit, and it is involved in a lot of advanced missions like asteroid exploration and possible manned exploration of the Moon. The agency was established as an Administrative Institution administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT).

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Before the three organizations were merged to form the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NAL was in charge of aviation research, ISAS was focused on space and planetary research and NASDA had designed and developed rockets, satellites, and also built the Japanese Experiment Module. NASDA was established on October 1, 1969, and its old headquarters is situated at the present site of the Tanegashima Space Center, on Tanegashima Island, 115 kilometers south of Kyūshū.


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has its offices and centers located throughout the country, including in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Sagamihara and space centers with launch sites in Kagoshima. The agency also has overseas offices in Washington D.C, Moscow, Paris, Houston, and Bangkok.

 


OBJECTIVES OF JAPAN AEROSPACE EXPLORATION AGENCY (JAXA)


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) serves as the space agency of Japan to carry out a range of activities involving space like basic research, development, and utilization. The agency has about 1,500 staff and its main responsibilities include;
Promoting the use of satellite to improve the quality of life.
Improving scientific knowledge of the universe and the origin of life.
Exploration of the Moon and planets to widen the horizon of human activity.
To achieve progress in Key industries.
To ensure the operation of the International Space Station and improve the use of space environment to develop new opportunities for the society.
Developing rocket technologies to improve reliability for stable transport, related research, and manned space flight.
Improve engineering research, to follow aviation safety and environmentally-friendly technologies.
To use fundamental engineering research to carry out autonomous space activities.
The agency also has offices and centers to undertake educational activities and to pursue collaborations with the industry and academia.



JAXA SPACE PROGRAMME


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is in charge of research, technology development and launch of satellites into orbit, and it is involved in a lot of advanced missions like asteroid exploration and possible manned exploration of the Moon. The agency was established as an Administrative Institution administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT).


Before the three organizations were merged to form the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NAL was in charge of aviation research, ISAS was focused on space and planetary research and NASDA had designed and developed rockets, satellites, and also built the Japanese Experiment Module. NASDA was established on October 1, 1969, and its old headquarters is situated at the present site of the Tanegashima Space Center, on Tanegashima Island, 115 kilometers south of Kyūshū.


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is in charge of all space activities in Japan and these activities can range from basic space research to ongoing space missions. The Japan space program has existed long before the beginning of JAXA and it includes numerous contributions to the International Space Station (ISS). Its contribution to the International Space Station (ISS) includes the Kibo research module (including a robotic arm) and regular cargo flights to the station using the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV). The agency has also been recognized for its numerous robotic exploration missions like the Hayabusa's sample return mission from asteroid 25143 Itokawa, the lunar mission SELENE and the new self-checking rocket, Epsilon.


In 1985, the first set of Japanese astronauts to be sent to space was selected under NASDA. This project selected three candidates namely; Takao Doi, Mamoru Mohri, and Chiaki Mukai. The first Japanese astronaut to be sent to space was Mamoru Mohri who was launched to space aboard STS-47 in 1992. There are also several Japanese experiments in the Spacelab-J, a scientific module on the Space Shuttle Endeavor, which is a currently a retired orbiter from NASA’s space shuttle program and the fifth operational shuttle built. The first Japanese astronaut to operate robotics in space is Koichi Wakata, who was part of the 1992 astronaut class.


The first Japanese astronaut to take a space was Takao Doi in 1997 when he did procedure evaluations for station aboard STS-87. After these more astronauts were chosen in many rounds to fill the demand for orbital slots and the JAXA’s most recent astronaut selection was in 2009. JAXA and NASDA developed cargo spaceships and Kibo (the first Japanese Module for human spaceflight) for the International Space Station (ISS). The agency is currently planning to develop a “talking robot”, Kiribo for the International Space Station (ISS). The Kiribo was designed to interact with astronauts and collect data about their mental health while on the International Space Station (ISS).


Japan also has a lot of robotic space missions like the launch of Hayabusa, which was one of Japan’s most popular robotic missions. The Hayabusa was successfully sent to space in 2003 and it arrives at the asteroid in September 2005. The spacecraft deployed a lander called Minerva that was designed to move from one place to another on the surface of the asteroid, but the lander failed. However, a second spacecraft, Hayabusa 2 was launched to space in December 2014 to a carbonaceous asteroid named Ryugu in order to collect samples of the asteroid and return to Earth. The spacecraft is expected to leave the asteroid in the late 2019 and return to Earth in late 2020.


The agency has also launched the SELenological and ENgineering Explorer (SELENE, also known as Kayuga) which was a mission to explore the surface of the Moon. This mission aims to study the mineralogical composition, geography, surface and sub-surface structure, gravity field and the remnant of the magnetic field of the Moon.


In September 2006, the agency also launched the Hinode (SOLAR-B) spacecraft to perform solar observations in space. The main aim of this mission is to better understand the solar corona, which is the atmosphere of the sun. This will help us better predict solar weather and its effects on Earth. The Astro-H/Hitomi X-ray observatory was also launched sometime in early 2016 by the agency but the mission lost contact with Earth and was declared lost.


The space agency also plans to launch the Epsilon rocket, which will be able to perform its own health checks and relieve the work burden of off-ground controllers.

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is in cooperation with other national space agencies of nations like France, China, Russia, ESA, and the United States. The International Space Station is a joint project among five space agencies from different nations; Roscosmos (Russian), CSA (Canada), NASA (United States), JAXA (Japan) and ESA (Europe).


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has also announced its plan to design and build manned spacecraft for Moon landing by 2020. This project is expected to be completed by 2030 but the agency will first launch an unmanned Moon probe in 2021. If these missions are successful, they will be the firsts in the history of Japan space programme.

REFERENCES
Iafastro
Britannica
Wikipedia
Space
Wikipedia
JAXA
JAXA
Diplomat


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