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N° 45–1996: Towards a new Partnership for the 21st Century

9 November 1996

On 5-6 December 1996, ESA and Japanese representatives in charge of space policy convened in Tsukuba Science City to review the achievements of the ESA/Japan Ad Hoc Group. This Ad Hoc Group was created during the 20th ESA/Japan annual meeting in order to reflect a mutual will to increase the level of bilateral cooperation through the adoption, in 1996, of a joint recommendation for enhanced cooperation.

On that occasion, ESA and Japan confirmed their will to reinforce their cooperation in space activities in order to fulfill their mutual interest to conduct joint projects and to share space data, and in order to further world-wide cooperation in space endeavors.

The concrete reinforcement of ESA/Japan cooperation is already visible since cooperative agreements on implementing major projects have been established in 1996 and are in the process of formal approval, and other promising areas of cooperation are being considered for the medium and long-term, leading to an overall cooperation in almost all fields of space activities.

The cooperation between ESA and Japan is defined along the following actions :

1. Cooperative agreements under formalisation

The agreement on the launch of ESA's ARTEMIS satellite by NASDA's H-IIA first flight and on the utilisation of ARTEMIS for Japanese satellite missions was finalised and is currently submitted to the approval procedures of both sides. The signature of this agreement is envisaged in April 1997. In the meantime, the provisions of the agreement are in force under a Protocol of Agreement signed on 30 September 1996 by the ESA Director General and the NASDA President.

An agreement in principle to exchange ESA's -90 C freezer and NASDA's standard payload racks has been signed by ESA and NASDA, in the field of Space Station utilisation. Both sides have started to make implementation plans and will formalise the ESA/NASDA arrangements in the course of 1997.

The technical concept of the Japan-Europe Global Architecture for Multimedia Access (JEG-Japan/Europe GAMMA) project was agreed. This project aims to establish a link between Europe and Japan as of April 1997, allowing the initiation of new services via satellite such as tele medicine, tele education, video conferencing, tele access to Earth observation data, etc.

2. Promising areas for cooperation in the medium and long term :

In the field of automated transfer vehicles, ESA and Japan have established regular technical interchange meetings to exchange information on selected subjects, to identify cooperative items and to coordinate common engineering approaches and interface compatibility as appropriate. ESA and Japan will participate, as observers, in each other's design reviews for the automated transfer vehicles, and will exchange information on the progress of the programmes.

In the field of International Space Station operations, ESA and Japan are exploring technical and operational cooperation for enhancing data transmission capabilities for the Columbus Orbital Facilities and the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) through the use of ARTEMIS and Japanese data relay satellites.

In the field of Earth Observation, ESA and Japan agreed to consolidate plans for collaboration and in particular to establish a plan of activities for possible collaborative Phase A study activities, based on the interest shown by both sides in a joint cooperative mission and mutual instrument flight opportunities for ESA's candidate Earth Explorer "Earth Radiation" mission and NASDA's corresponding candidate Earth radiation mission. In addition to existing agreements, both sides have agreed to consider further cooperation in mutual access to, and acquisition/distribution of, Earth observation data.

In the field of High Data Rate Satellite Communications, ESA and Japan agreed to cooperate in the area of Gigabit satellite communications. It was agreed that the development of Gigabit satellites should be performed in 4 successive steps : "study of system concept" (the first step), "research and development of fundamental technology" (the second step), "development of satellite" (the third step), "experiment with satellite" (the fourth step). ESA and Japan are already cooperating in the first step and plan to prepare a common concept of such a satellite by March 1997, with a target of space verification around 2002.

In the field of Space Transportation, it was agreed to continue exploring the possibilities of cooperation in the analysis of HYFLEX flight data, in the collection of in-flight measurement data using the HOPE-X flight, in ESA's Future European Space Transportation Investigation Programme (FESTIP) and in the exploitation of flight data from ESA's Atmospheric Re-entry Demonstrator (ARD) flight. ESA and Japan have also agreed to undertake analysis of GPS data from the Orbital Re-entry Experiment (OREX) and ASTROSPAS missions, and on the possibility of exchange of personnel.

In the field of navigation, mission demonstration satellites and disaster management, ESA and Japan agreed to continue to exchange information and to seek appropriate forms of cooperation.

In the field of lunar and planetary exploration, it was agreed to promote personnel and information exchange for cooperation between ESA and Japan concerning lunar satellites and other relevant ones.

In the implementation of these actions, the bilateral consultations will be reinforced and diversified in order to :


  • monitor implementation of above actions, propose adaptations where relevant, and establish new cooperative agreements as appropriate;


  • discuss evolution of the world-wide space activities and their consequences for the programmes of both sides;


  • promote new cooperation between ESA and Japan.

ESA and Japan will set up appropriate mechanisms for these reinforced bilateral consultations as from 1997.