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Dr. Tetsuo Yasaka's speech at
Committee on the Peaceful Uses of
Outer Space

June 15, 2006
slidesPresentation slides (890KB)

  1. Front Page
  2. Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,
    It is my great happiness to share with you, Mr Chairman, our experiences of Hands-On Space education, which was found to be rather successful and effective, in energizing young people, getting them prepared to take part of creative professional works in various fields in real world, including the space development itself. My talk will complemtent those presentations made my colleague, Ms Chiku and Mr. Hirohama.

  3. History
  4. Space activity in Japan has a rather long and successful history. However, a need of hands-on education in universities was realized only recently. In the past, university education was not well covered by NASDA nor ISAS due to a number of reasons. Probably, the Education Center, as described by Takemi, have had been established 15 years ago, the whole things would have gone through differently. As it happened, people in academic societies did realize importance in this field in early 1990's, considering what had been carried out in Great Britain and nabouring Asian nations in Hands-on activities especially in assembly and launching of small satellites. What I am going to describe are mainly activities of UNISEC, a non-government sector. We have close cooperation with JAXA and are shareing common goals and complementing each other, but I personally believe that government sector and non government sector working toward space, in a little different way, is a rather healthy situation. Satellite Design Contest was the first item to be noted. Three academic societies, mechanical, electrical and aerospace, created a forum for students to present and compete with their own idea of space missions. This forum eventually fostered various universities to initiate programs to have students devote to actual engineering practices, by applying theories and methodologies, taught in classes, to actual design works. While this contest involved only paper works, USSS introduced real implementation of systems to fly. CanSat, CubeSat were proposed and put into practice. In 2003, universities gathered to found a Non-Profit-Organization, UNISEC, to push their work jointly forward under cooperation. Hands-On Education has now been systematically organized domestically and internationally. Recently, JAXA announced launch opportunity of several small satellite on-board H-IIA vehicle. We, UNISEC did make a foundation that a quite a few satellites be proposed, and will see a number of ours to fly at this opportunity.

  5. Satellite Design Contest
  6. Satellite Design Contest started in 1993 with the initiative of three academic societies since 1992, later joined by space agencies. It did provide a trigger to university space activities, and it was well received by the society in general. What are required by the contest are not only the mission description with creativity, but also every aspect of space system design considerations, launch loads, thermal vacuum conditions, reliability and cost. It really made accumulation of student expertise in building space systems, and without this accumulation, the following activities would not have happened.

  7. Contest results
  8. Here are some of achievements in the Contest. Whale observation satellite, proposed in the 1st Contest was put into development by Chiba Institute of Technology, launched by NASDA in 2001 and it is operational in space right now. Many of these achievements, including PETSAT and tether satellites are now under actual development.

  10. USSS, University Space Systems Symposium is organized by JUSTSAP or Japan/US Science Technology and Space Applications Program, a larger mother organization, which holds meetings every November in one of Hawaiian Islands. This bi-lateral symposium opened a new eara where actual space system developments take place. Students from both countries defined various international joint projects through three day discussions each year. In successive years these projects are reported on achievements. CanSat and, CubeSat are typical products of this symposium. They all need relatively small cost, and short time period, making it an ideal educational tool that students can complete within their school days. By the way, CanSat and CubeSat were originally proposed by Professor Twiggs of Stanford University at this symposium and intensively developed in Japanese universities.

  11. USSS in action
  12. Here are typical USSS activities. Under a beautiful environment of Hawaii, students sit inside and make discussions. CanSat are launched in Black Hills, Nevada, in US mainland, with a cooperation of amateur rocket people.

  13. UNISEC overview
  14. UNISEC is a non-profit organization where many space related university laboratories join and cooperate in hands-on educational activities. It supports and coordinates satellite and rocket development projects in universities. Fund raising is the most difficult portion of our activities. JAXA is not only the largest contributor in our funding sources, but also usage of its test facility is playing important role to many universities.

  15. UNISEC in action
  16. UNISEC activities vary from various meetings to stimulation of actual project executions. CanSat, CubeSat, Ground Station Network and Hybrid Rocket are major projects that we devote ourselves to.

  17. UNISEC organization
  18. We have 35 university laboratories, with more than 300 students, joining and performing various projects. In actuality, we have 165 people who support our activities. I have listed some of universities with noted projects pursued by respectively.

  19. Domestic distribution
  20. Here are typical universities with firm projects in satellite, in red, and rocket, in blue. In many cases, local industry, mostly very small companies, do cooperate with universities in its region. Three local regions, Hokkaido, Osaka and Kyushu, have their own satellite projects, with a central university within the region keeping close and vital role. It is noteworthy that university space activity stimulates local industries, especially small ones that are normally not included in national space programs..

  21. CanSat Overall
  22. CanSat is our basic tool for those who want to go into satellite design, fabrication and operation. A soda can of 350 ml holds all basic functions of satellite, power, communication, et cetra. In many cases they have a GPS receiver for position sensing and control device for maneuvering parafoil. In an average, two students can build a CanSat in a few weeks, provided there is a trained leader available. The cost seldom exceeds 1000 Euro or equivalent.

  23. CanSat Sub-Orbital Flight
  24. Exciting portion of CanSat is sub-orbital flight operation on small rockets. Three small CanSats are put into the payload section (on top left), assembled, and ready to launch. After reaching altitude of a couple of kilometers, they are jettisoned from the rocket, and parachute or parafoil is deployed. A "Comeback Competition" is usually associated with, where the parafoil is controlled so that the CanSat reaches pre-assigned location when it lands. During descent, telemetry data is sent to hand-held ground facility.

  25. CanSat with Balloons
  26. Much easier flight operations are executed in many occasions in Japan, using balloons. CanSats released from the balloon deploys its parafoil, and controls its path to the designated target point, just in the same way as is done in sub-orbital flight. In the occasion of last year's IAC in Fukuoka, students worked on CanSats for a week, and they had a competition on the last day, using a tethed balloon for release. Necessary hardware units were provided by UNISEC and teams with a combination of a Japanese University and international students defined the system, coded software, assembled, and launched. It was an exciting experience for all students, irrespective of nationality.

  27. CubeSat
  28. 10 cm, 1 kg CubeSat, started at USSS symposium, is now a world standard for student educational satellite. Tokyo University and Tokyo Institute of Technology shared a flight on a Russian vehicle, along with those from other countries, in June 2003. This was the first occasion of CubeSat launch. They are still operating on orbit. Both universities had second ones recently. Other universities had also completed assembly, and await for launches. In average, cost to build a CubeSat is 50 thousand Euro or equivalent, without student labour cost. If included, it will easily go up ten times more, close to half a million Euro. Commercially available components, or COTS, are extensively utilized in these satellites. This is the only way to achieve very low cost and high performance space systems. Extensions into larger and more powerful satellites are on their way. They have more complex and ambitious missions, tether in case of Kyushu University, and Earth observation and astronomy in case of Tokyo University. They are expected to have launches in a few years.

  29. GSN Concept
  30. Ground station network is going to play a vital role during operation of university satellites. Since a university build ground station has a visibility of a satellite only ten minutes during each path, data collection could be enhanced by utilizing other stations in distance. Data acquisition and sometimes even command transmission can be achieved by a remote station through ground internet.

  31. GSN Architecture
  32. GNS system architecture has been developed and defined by UNISEC. In earlier time of development, each university adopted its own protocol thus unification was found necessary. UNISEC set a standard procedure which could be adopted by any ground station, at any country.

  33. GSN World network
  34. We have confirmed operability among domestic universities and started recently to co-utilize stations between Japanese and US stations. In this coming July, we will have the 1st International Ground Station Workshop in Tokyo. It should be noted that to have a common system over the whole globe will not only beneficial in satellite operation, but will develop friendship and understanding among students in the world. The benefit of young students working in a global system can never be over estimated.

  35. Hybrid rockets
  36. Finally I would like to mention about developments of small rocket vehicles. Majority of universities in this area have their focuses on Hybrid type rocket. Hybrid rocket utilizes rubber like organic material as fuel, combined with liquid oxidizer. Because safety in combustion is far superior compared to pure liquid or solid propellant rocket, hybrid is an ideal for development involving students. So far, altitude achieved is still not favorable, our primary goal is to launch CanSats to a few kilometer altitude by these rockets. Also, quite challenging is a fly-back vehicle with a winged upper stage. The largest problem we have is a test range that could be utilized at any time. As the performance goes higher, more restriction will be put on operation. UNISEC is working on as a whole to solve this matter.

  37. Summary
  38. So far, our hands-on space education has gone through productive processes. In summary, Mr. Chairman, 15 year Japanese Hands-On Space Education resulted in

    1. Accumulation of space system expertise in many universities, leading to a less expensive, more effective way of space system integration.
    2. Student's experiences on complete cycle of projects under their own initiative, from conception to operation, including design, fabrication, integration, testing and review.
    3. Cultivation of international minds and understanding through multi-national collaborative works which are expected to be enhanced more in near future.
    4. Meeting social demands to provide creative youths readily applicable not only to space development but also to any industrial and scientific practices.
    5. Finally, Mr. Chairman, we are proud to have shown an excellent example of effective educational practice to bring up challenging youths, within university capacity alone, and I firmly believe that this is the way which would be found applicable in any nation.

Internationalization of our activity has been a issues since the onset of our organization, with a desire and with some concerns. Our fund sources are limited to domestic ones, which is not our desire at all. There is an issue of language. Every discussion and documentation can be made very efficient when carried out in one language. We do have USSS which is carried out using English, or broken English, rather, but I have kept saying that any bilateral meeting should have two official languages, expecting, but without success, that working language to be switched form year to year. We do not have teaching side and learning side, just cooperation and stimulation through information exchanges. Up to know, we do welcome members who could follow the way as it is. GSN is the only exception, at present. This is an international, in its nature, and we do have non Japanese Universities that really need the system, and that we can take advantage of. This is the situation today. I wish the situation to change but it all depends on how the extra burden to member university could be made acceptable.

UNISEC does not perform project itself. All achievements belong to each university, with a clear understanding proprietary. Joint projects are exceptions. GSN is a good example, where UNISEC takes a lead.

We do not provide funds to individual projects. Certainly this is not our will. In the past, when JAXA or rather NASDA was more generous, we were able to assist some portion, but at present, all our resources are consumed in coordination, hosting meetings, including travels and minimum organizational expences. I repeat that this is not the way we want to do, but it is the way we are capable of.

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