Institute of Space and Astronautical Science

Coordinates: 35°33′30″N 139°23′43″E / 35.558389°N 139.395255°E / 35.558389; 139.395255
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35°33′30″N 139°23′43″E / 35.558389°N 139.395255°E / 35.558389; 139.395255

Institute of Space and Astronautical Science
宇宙科学研究所 (Japanese)
Uchū Kagaku Kenkyūsho
Agency overview
HeadquartersSagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Official languageJapanese
Primary spaceportUchinoura Space Center
Employees353 (FY2018)
Annual budget¥13.5 billion (FY2018)[1]
(US$ 0.12 billion) Edit this at Wikidata

Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (宇宙科学研究所, Uchū Kagaku Kenkyūsho), or ISAS, is a Japanese national research organization of astrophysics using rockets, astronomical satellites and interplanetary probes which played a major role in Japan's space development. Since 2003, it is a division of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).[2]


Entrance to the ISAS Sagamihara Campus

The ISAS originated as part of the Institute of Industrial Science of the University of Tokyo (ja: 東京大学生産技術研究所), where Hideo Itokawa experimented with miniature solid-fuel rockets (Pencil Rocket and Baby Rocket [ja]) in the 1950s. This experimentation eventually led to the development of the Κ (Kappa) sounding rocket, which was used for observations during the International Geophysical Year (IGY). 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 Ohsumi.

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.

ISAS was responsible for launching Japan's first interplanetary probes, Sakigake and Suisei, to Halley's Comet in 1985. It also launched Hiten, Japan's first lunar probe, in 1990. The Nozomi probe was launched in 1998 in an attempt to orbit Mars, but the spacecraft suffered system failures and was unable to enter orbit. In 2003, ISAS launched the Hayabusa spacecraft, the first asteroid sample return mission in the world.

Later 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). Under JAXA, ISAS continues to be responsible for space-based astronomy, and lunar and planetary exploration missions.

List of spacecraft by ISAS[edit]

Launch failures, cancelled projects, proposals etc. are not listed.

Before establishment of JAXA[edit]

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

After establishment of JAXA[edit]

Launch date Name before launch Name after launch Mission
10 July 2005 ASTRO-EII Suzaku X-ray astronomy
24 August 2005 INDEX Reimei Technology / Aurora research
21 February 2006 ASTRO-F Akari Infrared astronomy
22 September 2006 SOLAR-B Hinode Solar observation
14 September 2007 SELENE Kaguya Lunar orbiter
20 May 2010 PLANET-C Akatsuki Venus atmosphere observation
14 September 2013 SPRINT-A Hisaki EUV observation
3 December 2014 Hayabusa2 Hayabusa2 Asteroid sample return
17 February 2016 ASTRO-H Hitomi X-ray astronomy
20 December 2016 ERG Arase Magnetosphere research
20 October 2018
(in transit)
MMO Mio Exploration of Mercury as part of the BepiColombo mission with ESA
14 April 2023 JUICE JUICE Ganymede exploration (with ESA / NASA)
6 September 2023 XRISM XRISM X-ray astronomy
6 September 2023 SLIM SLIM Lunar landing demonstration

Future missions[edit]

Planned launch date Name Mission
2024 Hera Asteroid observation (with ESA)
2025 DESTINY+ Near Earth objects multi-flyby
2026 MMX Phobos sample return
2026 Roman Space Telescope Infrared astronomy (with NASA)
July 2028[3] Solar-C EUVST [ja] Solar observation
2028 JASMINE Infrared astrometry
2030 HiZ-GUNDAM [ja] Gamma-ray burst observation
2032 LiteBIRD CMB astronomy
2035 ATHENA X-ray astronomy (with ESA / NASA)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Annual Report of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (Report). Vol. 2018. Institute of Space and Astronautical Science Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. 24 December 2019. pp. 1–127. ISSN 2423-8627.
  2. ^ "JAXA History". JAXA Official Website (English). Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  3. ^ Shimizu, Toshifumi (15 December 2023). SH54A-03 The SOLAR-C EUVST mission: Coronal physics advanced by novel EUV spectroscopy. AGU23. Retrieved 26 December 2023.

External links[edit]