Japanese space industry aims for growth

Tokyo: The development of satellites and space rockets once required large expenditures and advanced technological skills, but lowering the production costs have made it easier for more companies to enter the market. While demand from the private sector is growing in the US and Europe, and China is intensifying its national space projects, Japan has lagged behind.

In an effort to catch up, private companies in Japan are expected to play a more active role to advance the domestic space industry.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp is focusing on a standard satellite platform the basis of satellites used for functions, such as telecommunications and surveillance.

In accordance with requests from clients, satellites based on the platform can flexibly perform various functions. Satellite developers do not need to manufacture original platforms for each order, thereby making it possible to lower the prices and speed up delivery.

NEC Corp is also developing a standard platform that can be used in satellites for mapping, forest fire prevention and other purposes.

Emerging companies are also increasing their presence in the space industry.

Technological innovations have enabled manufacturers to assemble satellites using commercially available parts.

A source in the industry said, In the past 10 years, costs have fallen by more than 50%.

Space development projects by private companies have hurdles to clear, such as how to shoulder the burden of risk from launch failures.

There is no clearly established business model in the field yet, but the opportunity seems ripe for Japan to regain its position in the global space industry. — The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

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