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Japan in Space

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In Japan, the institution responsible for aerospace technology is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). JAXA came into being on 1 October 2003 in a merger of the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL), and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS).

The roots of ISAS began with the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo in 1955. In 1964, the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science at the University of Tokyo was formed. They launched Ohsumi, Japan's first satellite, in February 1970. In 1981, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science was formed in a merger of research organizations at several Japanese universities. ISAS was responsible for Hayabusa, the asteroid sample return spacecraft launched in 2003.

NASDA was established 1 October 1969 and given responsibility for the development of spacecraft systems. Selections of Japanese astronauts first took place under NASDA, as well as development of the H-I and H-II rockets.

The NAL was established in July 1955 as the National Aeronautical Laboratory, a research organization. The name was changed to the National Astronautical Laboratory 1963 as research continued in the direction of aerospace.

Japanese astronauts have been active in space since 1992¹. Japan is also heavily involved in the International Space Station. Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module, is due to be launched in early 2008. Japan is also developing a cargo transfer vehicle (HTV) for the ISS.

1.) A Japanese television journalist travelled to Mir in 1990, but his flight was sponsored by a private corporation, the Tokyo Broadcasting System, and not the Japanese government.


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Last updated: 11 December 2016 17:58:09.

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