Introduction of Research

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Leading Research for Future
Ensuring the safety of space missions now and in the future

Overview of research

Space debris has been increasing year by year and in the future is expected to interfere with human space activities. To ensure the safety of space activities and promote sustainable space development in the future, JAXA is strengthening its cooperation with the government, as well as with internal and external related organizations, and is engaged in research and development of space debris.

Space debris in LEO
Space debris in GEO
(from equator)
Space debris in GEO
(from north)

A major goal of this research is to realize space debris removal. We will pioneer the elimination of large-scale space debris on orbit along with the busy enterprises who are willing to commercialize the endeavor. And by taking advantage of achieving this goal, we aim to open up new fields of business. In order to adopt a gradual and steady way of proceeding, we first demonstrate key technology with a small satellite. By taking advantage of the results, we then consider plans to perform the world's first demonstration to remove large space debris from orbit.

To achieve this goal, we conduct various research and development activities. In order to remove space debris, it is necessary to know the situation regarding the target space debris beforehand. For that purpose, we are conducting research on technology for observation from the ground. JAXA assumes that space debris removal entails the following series of flows. First rendezvous with the space debris, which is an uncooperative object, and then capture it. Then establish guidance control in the combined state. Next, reduce the orbital altitude by using a compact and highly efficient propulsion system. Finally, discard the space debris in an abandoned orbit, or secure its safety and reentry back to the ground. Among this series of flows, we need to develop a variety of new elemental technologies that are not found in conventional spacecraft. JAXA is working on the research and development of such technologies.

In addition, cooperation with countries all around the world is very important for solving the space debris problem. In cooperation with space agencies around the world, JAXA makes effective proposals on international standards and policies for debris reduction, while actively utilizing the latest technologies and knowledge in related research.