Space-related budgetary requests for FY2020 totaled 367.4 billion yen, 70 billion yen higher than that in the FY 2019 initial budget (signifying an increase by 23.5%). The “H3” next-generation launch vehicle is now entering the final stages of development, and work to develop the “HTV-X” unmanned cargo transporter is fully underway. The budget requested by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) ballooned as the ministry is responsible for these two projects. This is the largest total budgetary request since the government started compiling a space-related budget in FY 2009. The figure also exceeds the total of the FY 2018 supplementary budget and the FY 2019 initial budget for outer space (which together came to 360 billion yen).
In its FY 2020 budgetary request, MEXT asked for a space-related budget of 202 billion yen, making MEXT the ministry with the highest space-related budgetary request. The figure represents a 49.3 billion yen increase from the FY 2019 initial budget. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) [which is under MEXT] requested about 35.1 billion yen, up by 12.3 billion yen from the FY 2019 initial budget. The increase was due to project costs for the H3 rocket that JAXA is jointly developing with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other companies. The project is entering its high point, with JAXA planning to launch the first H3 rocket in FY 2020 and the second in FY 2021.
As new emerging entities, including SpaceX in the U.S., come to the fore, the government aims to increase the H3’s payload to exceed that of the current “H2A” launch vehicle. At the same time, the administration aims to achieve high cost performance by halving launch and maintenance costs as well as halving the number of days between launches. The government estimates total project costs to come to 190.9 billion yen.
About 10.8 billion yen, an increase of 7 billion yen, was requested for the development of the HTV-X new cargo transporter, which will replace the current H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) “Kounotori.” Kounotori is the unmanned cargo transporter now delivering supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). With sights set on transporting cargo to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, the new space station proposed by the U.S., JAXA will start developing technology for automatic docking that does not use a robot arm.
In its request, JAXA also newly included 1.16 billion yen for the technological development of a mini-habitation module, where astronauts will stay during the Gateway project. Japan will formally announce its participation in the project in fiscal 2019.
The development of the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) spacecraft will get into full swing in fiscal 2020. The MMX is a mission to land on a Martian moon, collect samples, and bring them back to Earth. JAXA plans to launch the MMX spacecraft on a H-3 rocket in fiscal 2024. By developing the technology used in asteroid explorers “Hayabusa” and “Hayabusa2,” JAXA aims to collect samples of sand and small rocks from one of the two Martian moons, “Phobos” or “Deimos.” This is a large-scale project requiring 46.4 billion yen in total development costs. The agency requested slightly over 3 billion yen in FY 2020.
MEXT, which administers JAXA, requested slightly more than 50% of the total space-related budget. Next was the Cabinet Secretariat, which earmarked 80.5 billion yen, up by 18.4 billion yen, for projects related to outer space. The Cabinet Secretariat is developing a total of 10 optical and radar satellites to be used to gather information on security and large-scale disasters and so requested budget to cover the costs of developing and operating the satellites.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is expanding its project to promote the free distribution of data collected by the government’s Earth observation satellites and its project to reduce the costs of satellites and rockets by harnessing the civilian sector’s technology.