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N° 27–1996: ESA -Japan cooperative relations at an historical turning point

2 July 1996

During the 21st ESA/Japan Annual meeting, a review of current and potential cooperative areas was performed. This review covered the preliminary conclusions reached in the framework of the ESA/Japan Ad Hoc Working Group which was created during the 20th Annual meeting to reflect the mutual will to increase the level of bilateral cooperation.

Considering the progress made by the Ad Hoc Working Group and the discussions during the 21st ESA/Japan Annual meeting, both sides acknowledged that the cooperative relations between ESA and Japan are at an historical turning point since concrete and visible cooperations are at a stage of agreed principles, and long term perspective offers additional opportunities for further reinforcement of this cooperation in almost all fields of space activities.

The ESA/Japan Ad Hoc Working Group already identified areas of future cooperation as follows:

In the field of data relay satellites, the principle of a visible cooperation between ESA and Japan on Artemis (Advanced Relay and Technology Mission Satellite) has been agreed as it represents an excellent first opportunity to meet the change of scale objective for future cooperative activities. The current understanding of both sides is that it is feasible to launch Artemis by a NASDA launch vehicle and to use Artemis for Japanese missions, and that it is intended to finalise an arrangement for this cooperation before the end of 1996.

In the field of automated transfer vehicles, both sides have agreed to pursue regular technical meetings on ATV and HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle) in order to exchange available information, achieve a common approach, and explore interface compatibility and any potential cooperative activities. Further technical and programmatic discussions are considered to be necessary in order to assess the feasibility of a cooperation concerning a joint qualification/validation approach.

In the field of space station utilisation, both sides agree to the basic principle to access each other's hardware. In particular, mutual interest has been expressed in the area of high performance freezers and standard payload racks. Both sides also agree to start domestic coordination process toward the realisation of an appropriate form of such access including the exchange of hardware. Further discussions are already planned in order to set up the details and conditions of this access. It is also agreed that further discussions should be pursued on the use of both sides' experimental facilities.

In addition to the steps made by the Ad Hoc Working Group, the following areas of cooperation have been identified for short-term implementation:


  • Cooperation on the GAMMA (Global Architecture for Multi- Media Access) project, leading to a joint experimental High Data Rate transmission via satellite between Europe and Japan. This joint activity is envisaged in particular in support of exchange of Earth Observation data. It was recognised by both sides that cooperation on the GAMMA project can be considered as a basis for future discussions on the development of Gigabit satellites.
  • Cooperation on ADEOS (Advanced Earth Observing Satellite) data access, in particular OCTS (Ocean Solar and Temperature Sensor) data access.

ESA and Japan have identified promising areas for potential cooperation in the mid and long term:

Scientific complementarity was identified in the YOHKOH (ISAS) and SOHO (ESA) solar missions. Reciprocal interest of both sides in sharing the data and exchanging guest investigators was manifested and will be explored.

In the field of planetary exploration, reciprocal interest for the respective studies on the exploration of the Moon were manifested. The next Lunar Conference to be held in Kyoto in October 1996 is considered as an ideal venue to initiate analysis of potential collaboration. Reciprocal interest was also declared to explore possible collaboration in the framework of the next call of ESA science medium mission M4. Cooperation on ADEOS is being envisaged in preparation for future cooperation on ENVISAT. A mutual will has been expressed in order to identify a concrete cooperation scheme concerning ESA's future Earth Explorer missions and future Japanese Earth Observation satellites missions, including the definition of scientific mission objectives, exchange of instruments, harmonisation, etc.

In the field of Space Station, technical investigations will be carried out in order to explore potential areas of cooperation beyond the areas already being discussed in the framework of the ESA/Japan Ad Hoc Working Group. In addition to the ATV/HTV technical meetings, regular Technical Interchange Meetings concerning the COF programme of ESA and JEM (Japanese Experiment Module) programme of NASDA will be considered.

It is proposed by ESA and NASDA to implement a Reciprocal Tracking Support Agreement facilitating mutual access to tracking station resources. The Agreement will address the balancing of services provided by the Partners. It is also proposed to implement ISDN Basic Rate Access facilities and the installation of the required terminal equipment to achieve a short notice data communication capability between the control centres of NASDA and ESA. This will provide the means for emergency support of in-orbit spacecraft with minimal delay. The long standing cooperation in the area of Electronic, Electrical and Electromechanical (EEE) components was reviewed. Opportunities for future cooperation have been identified for the harmonisation of risk management approaches, and the exchange of alerts and lessons learned data.

While it is premature to draw definitive conclusions, it was agreed that the subject of navigation/positioning system was worthy of continued information exchange and possible closer cooperation should be explored in the future.
Cooperation on the use of space technology for disaster management is an item of interest to both sides.