Artist’s rendering of the ETS-9. Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has appointed Mitsubishi Electric Corporation the prime contractor or the Engineering Test Satellite 9 (ETS-9) scheduled to launch in 2021.

The ETS-9 will be the centerpiece of a project to develop an advanced satellite bus, or common model, for various high-throughput satellites (HTS) for communications. Its main purpose is to serve, specifically, advanced communication needs, and will be the first Japan-made geostationary satellite equipped with GPS receivers for autonomous orbital transfer and orbital maneuvering.

Part of Japan’s Basic Plan for Space Policy, the ETS-9 will be one of the key advanced technologies deemed crucial to Japan’s security and global competitiveness in the space industry. It is hoped that the ETS-9 will generate a global demand and help Japan advance its industrial and scientific technology infrastructure.

Mitsubishi Electric has worked closely with JAXA on many projects, including the development of Michibiki satellites for Japan’s satellite-based augmentation system Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS). The second satellite in the four-satellite system scheduled to be operational by 2018 was just unveiled a few days ago.

The Japanese government has expressed the importance of the QZSS in Japan’s overall space policy; the ETS-9, therefore, represents a step towards an expansion of Japan’s space activities. With such expansion, Mitsubishi Electric is targeting space-related revenue of 150 billion yen by 2021.

With this hope, Mitsubishi Electric has also announced its plan to open a new satellite production facility in Kamakura, Japan, which will increase the company’s production capacity to 18 satellites in parallel, up from 10 in parallel at present.

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