JAXA Current Affairs

Japan successfully launches solid fuel rocket

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully launched a solid fuel rocket named Epsilon-2 from the Uchinoura Space Center in southern Japan.

The 26-metre-long rocket released Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) satellite for studying radiation belts around the earth soon after the lift-off. 

Key Facts
  • ERG satellite will orbit in a highly elliptical orbit, getting as close to Earth as 350 kilometers and as far away as 30,000 km.
  • This path will take the satellite through the Van Allen radiation belts, where the earth’s magnetic field traps huge numbers of fast-moving electrons and other particles.
  • These particles mainly damage the computer systems aboard satellites and pose a radiation danger to astronauts.
  • The satellite will use nine different instruments for studying radiation belts over the course of a mission designed to last at least one year.
Comment

Epsilon-2 rocket is part of a new generation of solid propellant rockets which can reduce launch costs up to one-third. The reduction in cost can allow it to put more communication and weather satellites in space. Thus, it can give JAXA a competitive edge in space launch industry which has robust growth potential and strong security implications.

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Japan successfully launches space junk collector into orbit

Japan’s space agency (JAXA) successfully launched a Kounotori 6 (HTV-6) spacecraft that will deliver a large magnetic tether, a space junk collector technology into orbit.

The spacecraft was launched on board of H-IIB rocket from Tanegashima Space Center.  It was also carrying essential supplies for International Space Station (ISS).

Key Facts
  • The space junk collector (electromagnetic tether) will perform Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiments (KITE) in order to test out new technology.
  • It is an experimental space scavenger that aims to study possibility of getting rid of space junk (debris) left into orbit by earlier space exploration missions.
  • It has been designed by JAXA engineers in collaboration with Nitto Seimo Co., a Japanese fishing net company.
  • The space scavenger is large magnetic tether made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium. It is designed to redirect space junk towards Earth’s atmosphere.
  • In theory, the net-like tether will generate enough slowing effect to influence the trajectory of space debris toward Earth’s atmosphere where they will burn up.
Why there is need of space junk collector technology?

More than 5 decades of human space exploration since the first Soviet-launched Sputnik satellite in 1957 has produced this hazardous belt of orbiting debris in the space. There are estimated to be more than 100 million pieces are circling our planet in the lower orbit, posing a growing threat to future space exploration. These pieces of debris travel at high speeds. A relatively small piece of orbital debris can inflict a great deal of damage on satellites or spacecrafts orbiting in the space. This phenomenon is Kessler Syndrome which describes a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris in low earth Orbit.

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