Axelspace Corporation (President & CEO Yuya Nakamura, hereinafter “Axelspace”) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (President Hiroshi Yamakawa, hereinafter “JAXA”) concluded a memorandum of understanding in December 2020 within the framework of the JAXA Space Innovation through Partnership and Co-creation (J-SPARC*1) regarding solution business using micro-optical satellite constellation*2 and have started a joint activity to create new business value together. Through this initiative, JAXA and Axelspace will look into utilization of the new sensor attached to the satellites and collaboration between microsatellites and large satellites in observation missions and satellite data utilization in the future.
Axelspace has added thermal infrared sensors (TIRS) which observe temperature to its GRUS microsatellites, which form its daily Earth observation platform AxelGlobe*3, and will study on the usage of satellite data combined with optical and thermal infrared sensors*4 as well as on data processing and other technologies for this data.
JAXA will provide technical support in examinations regarding satellite data usage and data processing and calibration and conduct an examination of research into use of temperature data captured by thermal infrared sensors in the field of disaster prevention and so on.
Furthermore, Axelspace and JAXA will create new value through mutual collaboration in combining data by microsatellites which have an advantage on frequent observation and data by large satellites which have an advantage on high resolution observation. This will be a prior study to think about future public-private partnerships through examination of application feasibility mainly in the field of disaster prevention.
Axelspace and JAXA aim to create new value through the activities above. By combining an array of data, the two parties intend to expand the use of satellite data to contribute to solve social issues such as monitoring the state of volcanoes, fishery resources and status of plant operations.
Yuya Nakamura, President & CEO of Axelspace
Since we founded the company in 2008, Axelspace has been building a solid track record by developing and operating five microsatellites, under the corporate vision of “Space within Your Reach.” One of these satellites is RAPIS-1: RAPid Innovative payload demonstration Satellite 1, built for JAXA’s Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program, which was launched in January 2019, completed its in-orbit demonstration mission and successfully finished operating in June 2020. We are delighted that with the completion of this memorandum of understanding, we will be able to deepen our collaborative relationship with JAXA, and integrate JAXA’s knowledge, technology and data on Earth Observation with AxelGlobe, our next-generation Earth observation platform, to co-create solutions for social issues. I hope that our co-creation initiatives will create a society, which space becomes within the reach of everyone, leading to create new ways of utilizing and developing values for satellite data, so that we can contribute to further develop Japan’s Earth observation technology.
Kyoko Dateki, Head of Business Development and Industrial Relations, JAXA
JAXA has thus far accumulated all sorts of data through global-scale observations conducted in Japan and overseas and cultivated both knowledge and experience regarding thermal infrared sensors from missions such as the “Shikisai” (GCOM-C) and “Daichi” (ALOS-2). Through the forthcoming joint activities with Axelspace we will attempt to optimize research and development results by maximizing JAXA’s knowledge and experience in improving the value of Axelspace’s microsatellite constellation-based solutions business and aim to obtain new knowledge towards the examination of future Earth observation missions.
*1 JAXA Space Innovation through Partnership and Co-creation Program (“J-SPARC”)
J-SPARC is a program which begins from talks between private companies aiming for aerospace business and JAXA. Having established a mutual commitment toward business development, the two parties will jointly examine business concepts and conduct exit-oriented technological development and demonstrations, creating new businesses. J-SPARC was launched in May 2018 and is currently working on about 20 projects. The project concept co-creation involves activities such as market research and business concept discussions, while the project co-demonstration involves activities such as joint feasibility studies and joint technology development and demonstration before commercialization.
J-SPARC official website: https://aerospacebiz.jaxa.jp/en/
*2 Satellite constellation
This is a system that provides advanced values through the use of multiple satellites.
Earth observation service, consisting of dozens of GRUS microsatellites, currently under development by Axelspace. It will allow for daily monitoring anywhere in the world. The first GRUS was launched in December 2018, and started delivering data in May, the following year. 4 additional satellites are planned to be launched in March 2021, allowing for delivery of data every two to three days soon.
*4 Observations using thermal infrared sensors
Thermal infrared sensing is an observational method that works by capturing the infrared rays emitted from the surface of ground that has been exposed to sunlight and warmed. In addition, it can also observe areas that have reached high temperatures to volcanic activity or fires etc. By investigating the strength of infrared radiation, we can discover the state of ground surface and sea temperatures as well as volcanic activity and wildfires. On cloudless nights, thermal infrared sensing can also conduct observation of earth’s surface at nighttime.