September 23, 2016 – A new program for research cooperation on the International Space Station will enable JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and NASA to encourage researchers and entities from both countries to mutually utilize experiment hardware between the U.S. and Japanese Experiment Module (JEM, or Kibo, which means “Hope” in Japanese).The Japan-U.S. Open Platform Partnership Program was announced by the governments of the U.S. and Japan in December 2015, and will run through at least 2024.
“The Open Platform partnership program developed by JAXA and the Government of Japan represents a very unique opportunity for the world’s researchers,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. “Exposing a broader group of the research community to the benefits of space based research will yield tangible results for those on Earth.”
To begin implementing this new approach, NASA and JAXA participated in a joint event in San Diego at the 2016 ISS Research and Development Conference. Both agencies presented major achievements of station and Kibo utilization and focused on Kibo’s available experiment hardware and services for potential users.
“About eight years have passed since JAXA started the utilization of Kibo,” said Takashi Hamazaki, JAXA Director General for Humans Spaceflight Technology. “JAXA has been asked to show the values, returns and fruits of the ISS for politicians and taxpayers and their voices are getting louder and louder every year. One of the best way is to increase utilization collaboration between JAXA and NASA to maximize the output and outcomes from the ISS and Kibo.”
Science leads from both agencies also joined the conference discussion, to expound upon the importance of international collaboration and the variety of science possible in microgravity. Kazuyuki Tasaki, Head of JAXA’s Kibo utilization center, outlined the module’s current focus areas, specifically support for drug design investigations, research into aging and the deployment of small satellites through Kibo’s airlock.
“Kibo began operations in 2008, and has completed the phase to search and choose of effective research using space environment,” said Tasaki. “Kibo was established as a base of R&D, JAXA put emphasis on promising area on space utilization and also set the utilization platform with policy as scheduled time, high frequency, cost minimum and regular form in order to maximize the outcome of ISS through the new US-Japan framework”