Kawasaki Establishes Satellite Ground Station to Pursue Space Debris Removal Operations

Oct. 04, 2019


 Satellite ground station antenna1:2 scale model of
the demonstration satellite

Tokyo, October 4, 2019 — Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced today its establishment of a satellite ground station at its Gifu Works facility, to be used in the operation of space debris removal technology demonstration satellites, planned for launch in FY 2020. In addition, Kawasaki will utilize the ground station, with activities including sending and receiving of data in coordination with satellites manufactured by other companies, and analysis and provision of satellite data.

Currently, space around earth's orbit is filled with more than 20,000 pieces of debris with a diameter of 10 centimeters or more, including remains of rockets from past launches, disused satellites, and sections of satellites. These create the risk of collision with the International Space Station and satellites.

Kawasaki has been developing space debris removal technologies since 2011, aimed at removing upper-stage sections of rockets launched by Japan. In FY 2020, a demonstration satellite developed in-house will be launched for to testing technologies including detection of target debris using image sensors, to maneuvering the satellite close to debris, and grasping of debris by extending an arm. Kawasaki aims to commence space debris removal operations in 2025.

The ground station comprises a satellite data transmitting sending/receiving antenna 3.7 meters in diameter and a telemetry room (control room). The antenna features a hexapodal structure. It provides easy continuous orbital tracking toward the zenith (straight upward). and can transmit and receive at S-band and also receive at X-band. Furthermore, it boasts automatic tracking functionality which detects radio wave direction to accurately track satellite position. By utilizing the satellite ground station to provide analytical results from various types of satellite data to users and pursuing coordinated applications with existing Kawasaki business operations, the company hopes to pursue novel satellite data usage business operations in addition to space debris removal (demonstration) satellite operations.

Additionally, Kawasaki will engage in collaborative efforts with the community including joint deliberations with Kakamigahara City in Gifu Prefecture, where Gifu Works is based, regarding the use of various types of satellite data to solve local issues. From early 2020, Kawasaki plans to provide educational, space-related workshops for Kakamigahara elementary school students involving ground station tours, hands-on satellite communication simulations and more.

Following the establishment of this new satellite ground station, Kawasaki plans to move forward with efforts aimed at entering the satellite data services field and while also making use of in order to actively contribute to further space business growth and safe usage of space environments by its sophisticated space-related technologies cultivated through wide-ranging experience.

Reference: Kawasaki Group Experience in the Space Business
-    Airlock and environmental control equipment for the International Space Station (ISS) Japanese Experiment Module Kibo
-    Thermal protection system for the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) Small Re-entry Capsule carrying a cargo transporter used to recover supplies from the ISS
-    Sampling device (currently under development) for the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) probe
-    Extension mechanisms for various satellites (developed by Kawasaki-affiliated NIPPI Corporation)


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