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More on Japanese research and development: Space exploration

Astronomical research plays a large part in Japan’s R&D plans. The development and utilisation of space exploration play a pivotal role in establishing the basis for Japan’s existence as a nation, by means of realising a better quality of life, encouraging industry through satellite-based applications such as telecommunications, broadcasting, positioning/navigation/timing, weather forecasting, earth observation, and bringing new knowledge through space science research.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is the core implementing agency supporting the Japanese government’s development and utilisation of space with technology. JAXA became a National Research and Development Agency in 2015, taking a step forward to achieve optimal R&D achievements for Japan.

Most recently, JAXA has started accepting applications for the 3rd Kibo Robot Programming Challenge (Kibo- RPC), which will take place in fiscal 2022 under a revised framework. Kibo-RPC is a programming competition for controlling free-flying robots within the International Space Station (ISS)’s Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo,” and an education program to provide young talent with an opportunity to develop robotic manipulation and computer programming skills in a spacecraft setting. This project has been organised jointly by JAXA and NASA as part of the Japan-U.S. Open Platform Partnership Programme, particularly targeting students from the Asia- Pacific region including Japan with an aim to expand the use of Kibo by Asian regions.

The JAXA Space Exploration Center (JSEC)

JSEC is focused on international collaborations for sustainable human space exploration. Working closely with government, industry, and academia in Japan, as well as space agencies outside Japan, JSEC develop strategies, investigate space systems, and manage projects. JSEC bring together JAXA’s joint activities in scientific understanding and technological development to tackle the challenges in human and robotic exploration.

International sustainable space exploration

Like JAXA, all over the world space agencies are turning their focus to sustainability. By default, space missions must be as sustainable as possible because supplies are limited on spacecraft. A Moon base that does not rely on regular supply missions is more viable and could last indefinitely if it created its own fuel from local resources and solar energy. A range of JAXA missions are underway to ensure that humans can engage in sustainable activities on the Moon and on Mars, and this is also the case for the European Space Agency, which have been working for over 25 years to create a portable ecosystem so that astronauts can bring a self-contained atmosphere-in-a-box that will supply oxygen, water and food while processing their waste.

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