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Wednesday 25 May 2016

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A Japanese spacecraft launches from Tanegashima Space Center on a trip to the International Space Station. - Image credit: JAXA


Japan’s Space Agency Still Suffering Effects Of Quake

TOKYO, Japan — While the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has for the most part been spared the horrific destruction from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan — it, like most of the country, has been affected. One of JAXA’s seven primary facilities remains closed.

The Kakuda Space Center, located in the Miyagi region close to the most serious damage, is JAXA’s rocket development and testing center and is Japan’s equivalent of the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

A JAXA public affairs representative at their Chofu Tokyo headquarters, contacted by phone this morning, said there is currently no timetable for Kakuda’s reopening.

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE || Map of JAXA primary facilities.

The Tsukuba Space Center, located about thirty miles northeast of Tokyo, suffered some structural damage and equipment loss in the March 11th earthquake but has since reopened. It’s functions serve JAXA much as the Johnson Space Center in Houston does NASA.

The space center includes a control room for part of the International Space Station that oversees the Japanese Kibo laboratory at the orbiting outpost, and coordinates JAXA’s unmanned cargo ships that ferry supplies to the space station. It also manages the country’s astronaut training complex.

One of its astronauts, Satoshi Furukawa, is currently at the Johnson Space Center training for a six-month mission to the ISS.  He will join an American and a Russian on a Soyuz journey May 30th.

The Tanegashima Space Center, JAXA’s rocket launch complex and an analogue to the Kennedy Space Center, is located some 800 miles south of the epicenter and was spared any damage. It is built on a high cliff on the island of Tanegashima overlooking the ocean. It’s elevation provides safety from any tsunami.

Facility tours at all seven major JAXA centers were cancelled in the aftermath of the quake and remain suspended.

jaxa’s primary centers and their missions

The Kakuda Space Center (KSPC) leads research and development in rocket engines, which are the hearts of the vehicles that carry satellites into outer space. Since the Kakuda Space Propulsion Laboratory (the former National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan) merged with the Kakuda Propulsion Center (the former National Space Development Agency), the KSPC has played an important role in improving rocket engines.

The main mission of the KSPC is the development and testing of liquid-fuel rocket engines to be installed in rockets such as the H-IIA. Construction of the High Altitude Test Stand, for test firing in a quasi-space environment, is currently in progress. The KSPC is also developing reusable rocket engines for reusable space-transportation systems of the future, and an air-breathing combined-cycle engine which will be used during atmospheric flights. The research is being conducted by simulation in the High Enthalpy Shock Tunnel. Location : 1 Koganezawa, Kimigaya, Kakuda-shi, Miyagi 981-1525


JAXA’s Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC), located in Tsukuba Science City, opened its doors in 1972. The TKSC, which sits on a 530,000 square-meter site, with beautiful natural surroundings, is a consolidated operations facility with world-class equipment and testing facilities.

As the center of Japan’s space network, the TKSC plays an important role in the research and development of spacecraft, such as satellites and rockets, and also controls and tracks launched satellites. As part of the International Space Station project, the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) “KIBO” is developed and tested at TKSC. Astronaut training is also in progress at the center.

The Space Transportation Mission Directorate, the Space Applications Mission Directorate, the Human Space Systems and Utilization Mission Directorate, the Human Space Systems and Utilization Mission Directorate, and part of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science are located at the TKSC which implement latest research, development, and testing in the space field. It is a pivotal center for Japanese space development. Location : 2-1-1 Sengen, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki 305-8505


The Sagamihara Campus, with a view of the surrounding Tanzawa mountains, was established in April 1989 as the core of the former Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). It has research and administration buildings, a research center, and buildings for the development and testing of experimental equipment for rockets and satellites.

The former National Space Development Agency (NASDA) was in charge of launching satellites for communications, broadcasting, weather, and terrestrial observation and also for the activities of Japanese shuttle astronauts. The mission of the former ISAS was to try to solve the mysteries of space, such as solar activity, and to trace the histories of the moon, the planets, black holes and the galaxy by launching scientific satellites and planetary probes. It also used balloons to make observations of the atmosphere and outer space.

Probing the mysteries of the origin of space, the birth of the solar system, and the earth’s atmosphere expands our understanding of life. The creation of new technologies for space science leads to the development of new technologies that can enrich our everyday lives.

In addition, Sagamihara Campus has a graduate school to inspire the next generation of space researchers and scientists. Affiliated with universities across Japan, it conducts various research on campus, and scientists from around the world are welcomed there in an effort to promote further development and integration of space-science research. Location : 3-1-1 Yoshinodai, Chuo-ku, Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa 252-5210


The Chofu Aerospace Center (CAC), where JAXA’s Aerospace Research and Development Directorate is located, is at the cutting edge of aerospace research and technological development. Its various large-scale test facility installations are widely used–not only by JAXA but also by other institutions–for research and development.

The CAC is especially proud of its wind-tunnel test facility, and of its super-computer, both of which are of the largest scale in Japan. The wind tunnel creates artificial air flow to study aerodynamic characteristics of models of aircraft and spacecraft, monitoring a range of speeds from low to hypersonic. At the Information Technology Center, the super-computer, using numerical simulations, designs and analyzes supersonic-speed experiment devices and spacecraft. It is also developing programs to solve body shake and engine heat phenomenon that affect spacecraft. Location : 7-44-1 Jindaiji Higashi-machi, Chofu-shi, Tokyo 182-8522

There is also a branch of the CAC, the Aerodrome Branch, near Chofu Airfield (Tokyo), which is used to access Oshima and Niijima. This facility uses experimental aircraft and flight simulators to test technology and to develop future aircraft designs. Location : 6-13-1 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181-0015


At the Earth Observation Center emote-sensing technologies enable us to observe the conditions of the Earth’s environment from satellites. In order to establish and develop these technologies, which play a significant role today, the Earth Observation Center (EOC) was founded in Hatoyama Town, Hiki County, Saitama Prefecture.

The EOC, located in an area richly endowed with nature, is equipped with large parabolic antennae to receive data from satellites. The data are stored on magnetic tapes in the data archive system, then turned into simple images with the help of our computer system, and examined. It then becomes available not just to laboratories, universities and governments in Japan and around the world, but also to the general public, via CD-ROMs and other media. They are used for various purposes, such as the elucidation of environmental issues, the monitoring of disasters, and surveys of natural resources. Location: 1401 Numanoue, Ohashi, Hatoyama-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama 350-0393


The Katsuura Tracking and Communication Station was established in Katsuura, Chiba, in February, 1968 as Katsuura radiowave tracking base of the Science and Technology Agency (STA) Space Development Headquarter, and was affiliated with the National Space Development Agency in October, 1969.

The main role of this Station is to track and control satellites. After receiving telemetry from satellites, it checks their location, altitude, and instrument functions. It also sends commands to satellites as required, in order to maintain and control them.

Apart from the 13-meter and 10-meter diameter parabolic antennas, we have a tracking and control facility, a power supply facility, and the Nonozuka collimation tower (on Nonozuka Mountain). Location: 1-14, Hanatateyama, Haga, Katsuura-shi, Chiba 299-5213


The Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC) was established in 1969, when the original National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) was formed. It is the largest rocket-launch complex in Japan (9,700,000 square meters) and is located in the south of Kagoshima Prefecture, along the southeast coast of Tanegashima. It is known as the most beautiful rocket-launch complex in the world.

On-site facilities include the following: the Yoshinobu Launch Complex, a launch site for large-size rockets like the H-IIA and H-IIB Launch Vehicles; Spacecraft Test and Assembly Buildings, where payloads of launch vehicles, satellites and explorers, are tested and assembled; and thd Spacecraft and Fairing Assembly Building. In addition , there are also tracking facilities in Tanegashima including the Masuda Tracking and Communication Station and the Nogi Radar Station in the north, and the Uchugaoka Radar Station and the optical observation facilities in the west.

The TNSC’s main role is the management of satellites at every stage of flight including countdown, launching, and tracking. The TNSC is expected to play an increasingly important role as the demand for satellites grows. Location : Mazu, Kukinaga, Minamitane-cho, Kumage-gun, Kagoshima 891-3793

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