Japan-Russia Space Projects Being ExploredPosted: October 1, 2016
The Yomiuri Shimbun reports: The government has begun talks with Russia over a possible collaboration in outer space-related fields, sources said.
The main areas of cooperation are expected to take place at a base in the Russian Far East to launch satellites and joint space-related technology projects.
Hiroshige Seko, minister for economic cooperation with Russia, is scheduled to visit Moscow in November, and a working group is expected to be formed to make specific proposals.
The Japanese and Russian governments have been discussing ways to expand economic and other forms of cooperation in preparation for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to Japan in December.
The Russian side brought up the possibility of cooperation in space-related fields in early September, the sources said. Since then, the Japanese government has been studying the matter internally, according to the sources.
Russia is seeking to expand the use of its Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur region in its Far East. It has mainly been relying on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, but embarked on building a domestic base due to reasons including the hefty fees for using the site.
However, Russia has already spent 300 billion rubles (about ¥500 billion) on Vostochny, and further costs are expected. Launching Japanese satellites from this base could help recover the construction costs, the sources said, adding that Russia has shown interest in inviting companies involved in related fields.
For Japan, launching satellites from low-cost Russian rockets could expand the use of outer space by the private sector, such as through communications and observation satellites.
The government is also trying to expand the use of domestically produced satellites for launching commercial satellites.
However, Japanese rockets are more expensive than models from Europe, the United States and elsewhere, and are considered less user-friendly. While the government intends to continue promoting the development of domestic rockets, it decided a larger slate of rockets to choose from was needed, the sources said.
Additionally, cooperating with Russia in space-related projects could create sales opportunities for Japanese companies making high-precision devices such as solar battery panels and sensors.
There is a risk the rockets and satellites could be used for military purposes, so both governments plan to discuss the specifics of any joint projects carefully, the sources said.
Source: The Japan News
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