Japan Current Affairs - 2020

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.

India and Japan Sign Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

After years of negotiations, India and Japan have signed a bilateral Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement on 11 November, 2016. With this, India has become the first non-NPT country with which Japan has signed a Civil Nuclear Agreement.

The civil nuclear agreement between the two countries was not realized so gar manly because India did not fit into Japan’s ‘Hikaku San Gensoku’ or three non-nuclear principles. These principles adopted in a resolution by Japanese parliament provide that Japan would neither possess nor manufacture nuclear weapons, nor shall it permit their introduction into Japanese territory.

The talks for Civil Nuclear Agreement between the two countries had started when a joint statement in 2006 with joint statement by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, the discussions took five years to move to negotiation stage in 2010. The cause of delay was political opposition within Japan from anti-nuclear lobbies and media.

Till now, India has also signed civil nuclear deal with 10 other countries viz. United States, Russia, South Korea, Mongolia, France, Namibia, Argentina, Canada, Kazakhstan, and Australia.