Institute of Space and Astronautical Science

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Entrance to the ISAS Sagamihara campus

Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (宇宙科学研究所 Uchū kagaku kenkyūjo?) (ISAS) is a Japanese national research organization of astrophysics using rockets, astronomical satellites and interplanetary probes. Since 2003, it is a division of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).[1]


The ISAS originated as part of the Institute of Industrial Science of the University of Tokyo, where Hideo Itokawa experimented with miniature solid-fuel rockets (Pencil Rocket and Baby Rocket) in the 1950s. This experimentation eventually led to the development of the Κ (Kappa) sounding rocket, which was used for observations to determine the International Geophysical Year. By 1960, the Κ-8 rocket had reached an altitude of 200 km.

In 1964, the rocket group and the Institute of Aeronautics, along with scientific ballooning team, were merged to form Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science (宇宙航空研究所 Uchū kōkū kenkyūjo?) within the University of Tokyo. The rocket evolved into the L (Lambda) series, and, in 1970, L-4S-5 was launched as Japan's first artificial satellite Ōsumi.

Although Lambda rockets were only sounding rockets, the next generation of M (Mu) rockets was intended to be satellite launch vehicles from the start. Beginning in 1971, ISAS launched a series of scientific satellites to observe the ionosphere and magnetosphere. Since the launch of Hakucho in 1979, ISAS has had X-ray astronomy satellites consecutively in orbit, until it was briefly terminated by the launch failure of ASTRO-E.

In 1981, as a part of university system reform, and for the mission expansion, ISAS was spun out from University of Tokyo as an inter-university national research organization, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science.

In 2003, three national aerospace organizations including ISAS were merged to form Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The English name Institute of Space and Astronautical Science is still used, although the Japanese name was changed to 宇宙科学研究本部, (literally, Space Science Research Division, whereas the previous name's literal translation was Space Science Laboratory). In 2010, the name was changed back to the previous Uchū kagaku kenkyūjo (宇宙科学研究所?).

List of Satellites by ISAS[edit]

Before establishment of JAXA[edit]

Launch date Name before launch Name after launch Mission
February 11, 1970 Ōsumi Technology demonstration
February 16, 1971 MS-T1 Tansei Technology demonstration
September 28, 1971 MS-F2 Shinsei Ionosphere / cosmic-ray / solar-radio observation
August 19, 1972 REXS Denpa Ionosphere / magnetosphere observation
February 16, 1974 MS-T2 Tansei 2 Technology experiment
February 24, 1975 SRATS Taiyo Thermosphere and sun
February 19, 1977 MS-T3 Tansei 3 Technology experiment
February 4, 1978 EXOS-A Kyokko Aurora and ionosphere
September 16, 1978 EXOS-B Jikiken Magnetosphere and thermosphere observation
February 21, 1979 CORSA-b Hakucho X-ray astronomy
February 17, 1980 MS-T4 Tansei 4 Technology experiment
February 21, 1981 ASTRO-A Hinotori Solar X-ray observation
February 20, 1983 ASTRO-B Tenma X-ray astronomy
February 14, 1984 EXOS-C Ohzora Mesosphere observation
January 8, 1985 MS-T5 Sakigake Technology experiment / Comet observation
August 19, 1985 PLANET-A Suisei Comet observation
August 19, 1987 ASTRO-C Ginga X-ray astronomy
February 22, 1989 EXOS-D Akebono Aurora observation
January 24, 1990 MUSES-A Hiten Interplanetary technology experiment
August 30, 1991 SOLAR-A Yohkoh Solar X-ray observation (with NASA / UK)
July 24, 1992 GEOTAIL GEOTAIL Magnetosphere observation (with NASA)
February 20, 1993 ASTRO-D ASCA X-ray astronomy (with NASA)
March 18, 1995 SFU SFU Multi-purpose experiment flyer (with NASDA / NEDO / USEF)
February 12, 1997 MUSES-B HALCA Space VLBI technology development
July 4, 1998 PLANET-B Nozomi Mars atmosphere observation
May 9, 2003 MUSES-C Hayabusa Planetary sample return technology development

After establishment of JAXA[edit]

Launch date Name before launch Name after launch Mission
July 10, 2005 ASTRO-EII Suzaku X-ray astronomy
August 24, 2005 INDEX Reimei Technology / Aurora research
February 21, 2006 ASTRO-F Akari Infrared astronomy
September 22, 2006 SOLAR-B Hinode Solar observation
September 14, 2007 SELENE Kaguya Lunar orbiter
May 20, 2010 PLANET-C Akatsuki Venus atmosphere observation
September 14, 2013 SPRINT-A Hisaki EUV observation

Future missions[edit]

Planned launch date Name Mission
FY2015 ASTRO-H X-ray astronomy
2017 MMO Mercury exploration (part of BepiColombo, with ESA)
FY2016 ERG Magnetosphere research

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "JAXA History". JAXA Official Website (English). Retrieved February 21, 2013. 

External links[edit]