JAXA Gets Modest Budget Increase, Sets Sights on New Launcher

Hayabusa2 launch aboard a H-2A rocket (Credit: JAXA)
Hayabusa2 launch aboard a H-2A rocket (Credit: JAXA)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
President Naoki Okumura
January Press Conference

Cabinet Approval of JFY 2015 Budget

The original Japan Fiscal Year 2015 budget was approved by the Cabinet on Jan. 14. JAXA’s total budget is 154.1 billion yen [$1.29 billion], about 400 million [3.35 million] less than that of JFY 2014 of 154.5 billion yen [$1.3 billion]. However, a supplementary budget of 29.9 billion yen [$250 million] was already set, thus the total will be 184 billion yen [$1.54 billion]. So, incorporating the supplementary budgets, the JFY 2015 JAXA budget is about a 2.5 billion yen [$21 million] increase from the 2014 budged of 181.5 billion yen [$1.52 billion].

The following are major points of the JFY 2015 budget:

  • 12.5 billion yen [$104.5 million] was allocated for a new flagship launch vehicle that is slated for launch in 2020. It is an increase of 5.5 billion yen [$46 million] compared to JFY 2014.
  • 5.1 million yen [$42.6 million] was newly set for developing an “advanced optical satellite” to achieve unprecedentedly broad and high-resolution land observations, which no country has ever previously attained.
  • 3.1 billion yen [$25.9 million] was assigned to start developing an “optical data relay satellite” for optical communication to realize a data transmission speed of more than twice as much of that by radio frequency (1.8 Gbps.)
  • 900 million yen [$7.5 million] was newly allocated for launching a small satellite by the Epsilon launch vehicle to set up an innovative satellite technology verification program for novel space technology.
  • 11.4 billion yen [$95.3 million] was set for launching the next X-ray astronomy satellite “ASTRO-H” in JFY 2015.

As you can see, we received budget allocations for newly launched missions, thus we are working hard to cope with expectations.

New “Basic Plan on Space Policy”

On Jan. 9, the new “Basic Plan on Space Policy” was decided by the Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed JAXA and other related ministries to steadily follow the plan to make it a success. Thus JAXA, as a core space development agency which supports the Japanese government’s space development, keeps firmly promoting research and development for satellites, launch vehicles, space exploration and other aerospace areas.

2015 Schedule of Activities

Let me briefly introduce this year’s scheduled activities.

From April, JAXA will begin activities as a “national research and development agency.” As such, we have to carry out our missions to maximize the purpose of this state policy.

A research and development agency is expected to “optimize R&D results representing all of Japan.” Hence JAXA is expected not only to work hard as an R&D agency but also to contribute to generating innovation allover Japan by disseminating JAXA’s achievements.

Accordingly, our working practices within JAXA may differ from our conventional ways.

Astronaut Kimiya Yui will stay at the ISS as a 44/45 expedition crew member from the end of May to November this year. He will perform space experiments and other activities.

In December, we plan to conduct an Earth swing-by of the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” and orbit re-injection of the Venus Climate Orbiter “AKATSUKI.”

JAXA’s JFY 2015 launch schedule includes launches of the KOUNOTORI-5, a cargo transporter to the ISS, and the next generation X-ray Astronomy Satellite “ASTRO-H.”

As you can see, the next fiscal year will be another significant year for JAXA as we have to play an important role as a national research and development agency for new missions being planned, while many events have already been scheduled.

Application of Hayabusa2 Power Technology

As part of the commercialization of R&D achievements, JAXA proposes technology for power peak cuts stemming from the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2.” We have made available the communication information to apply this technology for electric appliances as an open platform. This communication technology enables us to control and prioritize power for multiple electric appliances simultaneously based on infrared communication media. We hope that it will be applied to many electric appliances by loading onto an open platform.

  • windbourne

    ~2020 is going to be a busy year for new launch vehicles.
    BO, ULA, airbus, Japan, and spacex are saying new vehicles for that time.
    Hopefully, we have multiple destinations by then.

  • Aegis Maelstrom

    Well, I am pretty sure that the Moon, planets, dwarf planets, comets, asteroids and places like L1 point are not going anywhere soon… 😎

    Putting jokes aside, you sound like referring human travel like ISS whereas I think we will agree that unmanned space probes, observatories and landers and scientifically far more promising. Luckily, here we have a far better progress record and in 2020 we should expect a fair share of new missions utilizing new ion thrusters and improved electronics.

    If only governments like U.S. spent less on pork and military sats and more on Keplers, Rosettas, Hayabusas, Curiosities and Gaias, we would know much more and, perhaps, have better and cheaper, mass-produced devices. Perhaps this is something to root for. 🙂

  • windbourne

    actually, no.
    Robotics and humans have to move out together. If we do one vs. the other, we will lose massively. For example, probes will remain on SMALL platforms. The landers at Mars are ridiculously small and quite honestly do not return that much science in and of itself.
    However, lets say that Musk gets Red Dragon going. He will have doubled the science that can go to mars in 1 trip. And that is using the FH. In addition, he will have made it CHEAP.
    When I worked on the MGS, we spent a FORTUNE on making it and making it work PERFECTLY (though 1 patch killed her).
    But, MGS was small and really did not do that much.

    If private space, along with various gov. entities, go to the moon, then it will not only make launch cheap, but also make robotics, sats, etc dirt cheap. Basically, by 2020, for America to send a mission to mars will be dirt cheap. And I mean, for well under 100 million for the WHOLE mission. In fact, I suspect that Musk will be able to send back samples by that time.

    So, no, I do not think that one should be done without the other. Together, the missions will become cheap.

  • Aegis Maelstrom

    I don’t get you Windbourne: in the first sentence you claim that the human spaceflight is needed for robotic missions but then you fail to give at least one example and all you quote are possible robotic missions. 🙂

    Firstly you made some claim on small platforms but then e.g. the heaviest current LV in U.S. is the one used for military sats. Similarily in other countries: Soyuz is not the heaviest Russian rocket, HII and Ariane are unmanned etc.
    You don’t need a human passanger to build heavy.

    And in terms of efficiacy: well, even if we agree that launch vehicles will reduce their cost that much (I would not be so optimistic here) it will not change the fact that robotics is far more cost effective.

    in my book robotic missions offer an incredible bang for a buck comparing to manned missions. Take a look at Apollo, where actually only one astronaut was scientifically competent and useful – the rest was an exercise in engineering and a needed win in propaganda space race. Even now ISS is not very scientifically useful – and its outcomes are nowhere need to cheaper unmanned missions. Let us be honest: humanity did the manned flight “because it could” and because there was a propaganda war going on.

    As I love spaceflight, I can admit that human spaceflight’s basic purpose is PR: its more persuading to a Joe Sixpack, especially in American pop culture which loves to recreate a cliche of “ordinary hero fighting with nature, somewhat faulty mechanics and an evil egghead scientist”.

    At the moment, the real usage of spaceflight are all those military/espionage sats, telecom sats, nav sats (everything unmanned) and space probes/observatories.

    Perhaps you are right and the space launch will be “dirt cheap” – but it does not change the second part of the equation: robotics offers far far more scientific value per kilogram sent. Cheap LV and more of mass production in this electronics and we call send a lot of automated laboratories to Mars, Moon and other objects. We can explore objects farther than Mars, which with human spaceflight is not really a realistic option for now.

    Best Regards,

  • windbourne

    dumb question:
    In what ways have scientific missions lowered the price of getting to space, or other satellites?

    Right there, is the answer to why you can NOT have just scientific missions.

  • Aegis Maelstrom

    I understand your position: human flight created the market – which is true due to PR reality and military industry relationships.

    Certainly we can imagine the world where US govt starts not with a “Commercial Cargo programme” but with a “Commercial GPS programme”, “Commercial military sats programme” or “Commercial Spaceprobes programme”.

    However you are right, that would be a different world; in this one US Military wants to make deals with their friends from ULA and science effective probes are cut in favour of porkish Orion.

    That doesn’t change my stance: unmanned opportunies lay on the table. Not only that, thanks to the progress in sat and probes technologies unmanned has never been so efficient and it is only going to be better, whereas capabilities of human body remain more-or-less stagnant (one may even argue that people become more and more demanding).
    If I were in charge in NASA, not only I would spend more money on unmanned; I would also work on making labs like ISS more and more automated and robotically controled from Earth.

    I think space enthusiasts can and should voice such concerns (as general public does not care), just like voice their displeasure with “pork” and hectic moves of politicians. Just my 2 cents, though. 🙂

  • windbourne

    I think that at this time, the idea of killing human space would be the worst idea going.
    The reason is that we are on the precipice to expand beyond this planet. To the moon and mars. And before humans go to a place, we will send probes and robotics. And with that development, it will make it easier to advance other science probes.
    Look, many in the unmanned world got upset with bolden/O because it sounded like they were going to gut the mars program. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    SpaceX is about to make all of this possible. We get to explore not just the moon and mars, WITH PPL, but also with loads more robotics and sats.
    And once SpaceX brings down their prices, hopefully, Blue Origin and Allen’s company will follow suit. This will make it possible for us to really go places.