Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
宇宙 航空 研究 開 発 機構

JAXA logo
founding October 1, 2003
Headquarters Chofu , Tokyo Prefecture JapanJapanJapan 
Authority management Hiroshi Yamakawa
Web presence www.jaxa.jp
H-II , H-IIA and H-IIB
Kibō module for the ISS

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency ( JAXA ; English for Japanese 宇宙 航空 研究 開 発 機構 , Uchū Kōkū Kenkyū Kaihatsu Kikō , German for "Organization for Aviation and Space Research"; translation of the English translation for "Japanese Space Research Agency") is the Japanese space agency . Legally, it is a self-governing body ( dokuritsu gyōsei hōjin , English Incorporated Administrative Agency , Independent Administrative Corporation or Independent Administrative Institution ) under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Science (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology).

Its legally prescribed purpose originally explicitly included aerospace research for peaceful use. It emerged in October 2003 from its predecessor organization, the National Space Development Agency (NASDA), the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS).

Astronomy missions

A model of the Hayabusa space probe taking soil samples; the four nozzles of the ion thrusters can be seen on the left side of the board

One of the core tasks of ISAS was astronomical missions. This task will continue under the umbrella of JAXA. Japan's first successful mission was the Hakuchō (Corsa-B) satellite , which was launched in 1979.

X-ray astronomy

Building on Japan's first astronomy mission Hakucho, the country was able to carry out almost uninterrupted X-ray observations for 20 years with the successor missions Tenma, Ginga and Asca. However, this chain of success was interrupted with the false start of the Astro-E mission in 2000. It was not until July 2005 that JAXA was able to continue its successful work with the Astro E2 mission (Suzaku). In this respect, this start was of central importance for JAXA. The Japanese X-ray astronomy found its continuation in MAXI, an external camera for a complete sky scan. MAXI was attached to the ISS Kibo module in April 2009 . The actual successor mission for Suzaku, Astro-H ( Hitomi ), was supposed to start in the summer of 2013, but this was then postponed to February 17, 2016. On March 26, 2016, the satellite broke in orbit while it was still in operation.

Infrared astronomy

The first Japanese space telescope for the infrared range was the one-month IRTS mission launched in 1995 as part of the SFU-1 satellite. IRTS scanned approximately seven percent of the sky. In February 2006, JAXA finally launched the ASTRO-F mission, a 69 cm infrared telescope . One of JAXA's goals is to further develop the mechanical cooler to such an extent that it is no longer necessary to carry liquid helium.

Solar observation

In September 2006, the Hinode mission (Solar-B) was started from Kagoshima as the successor to the Yohkoh satellite (Solar-A).

Space VLBI

In 1997 ISAS started a radio astronomy mission for VLBI observations with Halca . This mission officially ended in 2005. The project for the successor to the Astro-G telescope was discontinued in 2011.

Earth observation

Another core task of JAXA is earth observation. This concerns on the one hand the direct observation of the earth's surface, in particular to help with natural disasters, on the other hand the observation of the climate.

The first Japanese earth observation satellites were MOS-1a ( Marine Observation Satellite , also Momo-1a ), launched on February 16, 1987, and MOS-1b (launched February 7, 1990). JERS-1 ( Japanese Earth Resources Satellite , also Fuyo ) was launched on February 11, 1992.

In February 2006, Japan launched the ALOS Earth Observation Mission ( Advanced Land Observing Satellite , also: Daichi ). This mission is under heavy pressure due to the shortened lifespan of the ADEOS II / Midori II satellite ( ADvanced Earth Observing Satellite ). The next mission in this area was GOSAT ( Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite ), which was launched in 2009.

In contrast, the TRMM mission ( Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission ) in cooperation with NASA is extremely successful . However, the status of the successor GPM ( Global Precipitation Measurement ) is still unclear due to NASA budget difficulties. As a successor to ADEOS II, GCOM-W ( Global Change Observation Mission-Water ) will be launched in 2011, the first of a series of six new earth observation satellites. The EarthCARE mission, which is scheduled to start in 2021, is a cooperation between ESA and JAXA to measure clouds, aerosols and radiation in the atmosphere.

The Himawari satellites provide the weather forecast for Japan.

JAXA is a member of the International Charter on Space and Natural Disasters .

Other JAXA missions

  • DRTS (Kodama): Data Relay Satellite since 2002
  • EXOS-D (Akebono): Aurora observation since 1989
  • Geotail : observation of the magnetosphere since 1992

Interplanetary missions

The first spacecraft in Japan were Sakigake and Suisei , which took off for Comet Halley in 1985. The experimental technology mission Hiten (Muses-A) was active on Earth's moon from 1990 to 1993. In 1998 the Mars mission Nozomi (Planet-B) was started, but failed in 2003.

JAXA has a 64-meter telescope in Usuda available for carrying out interplanetary missions . Other interplanetary missions are the Akatsuki Venus probe and, in cooperation with ESA, the BepiColombo Mercury probe . In addition, JAXA's goal is to start a solar sail mission to the planet Jupiter after 2010 .


The asteroid mission Hayabusa (Muses-C), launched in May 2003, was able to reach its target, the asteroid (25143) Itokawa , in September 2005 and scientifically investigate it. The main objective of the mission was to collect dust particles from the surface of the asteroid and transport them back to Earth. On June 13, 2010, Hayabusa re-entered the earth's atmosphere. The return capsule landed in South Australia on schedule, and a number of small particles were found in it, which were then examined further. In November 2010 the results of the investigation were announced.

Moon missions

In September 2007 the lunar orbiter Kaguya was launched. It circled the moon until it crashed on July 11, 2009 due to lack of fuel. JAXA also developed penetrators to be used with the LUNAR-A probe . However, this mission has been canceled.

In 2006, JAXA planned an ambitious manned lunar base project for 2015 , which should be completed in 2020. As of 2010, it was only an unmanned project, in which humanoid robots (like models such as the robonauts of NASA ) should be sent to the moon, which should build an unmanned robotic lunar base near the south pole of the moon to the 2020th The robot moon base was supposed to be powered by solar energy. According to these plans, the robots should each have weighed around 330 kilograms. The plan was to have humanoid upper bodies with gripping arms, seismographs , caterpillar tracks and solar panels on their heads. These robots were supposed to be remotely controlled from Earth, but should have had their own AI with some autonomy and be able to repair themselves. In addition to the basic building, the robots should also collect rock samples that would have come to earth with rockets. The project was to around 2.2 billion US dollars estimated. The plans have since been put on hold for budget reasons and the technology site Gizmodo is "only" talking about an unmanned probe.

Communication technology


In August 2005, Japan launched using a Russian Dnepr - launcher from Baikonur in the Kirari -Testmission establishing optical connections between satellites. A connection with the ESA Artemis probe was established in December 2005.


JAXA started the ETS VIII mission in December 2006 . The task of ETS-VIII is to enable mobile communication with a GEO satellite. The WINDS satellite , which was launched in February 2008, is intended to enable faster Internet connections within Japan.


Unlike Europe, China and Russia, JAXA is not planning its own global navigation system . Rather, JAXA's goal is to improve the accessibility of the existing GPS signal within Japan. Japan tries to achieve this by positioning a satellite of the quasi-zenith satellite system (QZSS) on its trajectory exactly above the zenith of Japan.

The first satellite was launched in September 2010.

Projects (selection)

Proposed projects

Overview of active missions

year Surname comment
1989 Akebono Aurora observation
1992 GEOTAIL Magnetosphere observation together with NASA
2002 Kodama Communications satellite
2005 Suzaku X-ray satellite together with NASA
2005 Rhyme Technology testing and aurora observation
2006 Daichi Earth observation
2006 Akari Infrared observation
2006 Hinode Sun observation together with NASA and the BNSC
2006 Kiku 8 Test satellite for communications technology, currently Japan's heaviest satellite
2007 Kaguya Lunar orbiter
2010 IKAROS experimental space probe
2010 Akatsuki Venus orbiter
2016 Hayabusa 2 Asteroid mission

Web links

 Wikinews: Category: JAXA  - in the news

Individual evidence

  1. The Hakucho (CORSA-B) satellite. NASA, accessed January 15, 2013 .
  2. NASA mission page
  3. ^ Infrared astronomical satellites unveil the history of the universe . JAXA (English)
  4. ESA: EarthCARE. Retrieved December 20, 2018 .
  5. hayabusa.jaxa.jp
  6. Identification of the origin of particles brought back by Hayabusa . JAXA press release from November 16, 2010
  7. popsci.com
  8. news.cnet.com
  9. How humans could turn space into a colony , article by Robin Schwarz in the Zürcher Tages-Anzeiger on July 24, 2015
  10. Optical Inter-orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite “KIRARI” (OICETS) . JAXA September 24, 2009; accessed May 1, 2013
  11. Quasi-Zenith Satellite System JAXA (English)
  12. ^ Rainer W. During: Paris - Tokyo in three hours. Section: NASA experts say it will be another 15 years, last paragraph. Tagesspiegel, January 2, 2015, accessed October 27, 2016 .