As of 1 April 2018, Hiroshi Yamakawa has taken over from Naoki Okumura as the President of Japan’s space agency the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The occasion marks the completion of Okumura’s 5-year term as JAXA President, during which he spearheaded several new missions including the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX), a robotic space probe approved in 2015 and set for launch in 2024. He also initiated a number of significant international cooperation activities, including the Joint Global Multi Nation Birds (Birds Satellite Project), which gives university students the opportunity to build and launch their own cubesats from Japan’s KIBO module on the International Space Station (ISS).
Okumura’s successor Yamakawa, an aerospace engineer by training, has spent much of his career in the academic world, having worked at both JAXA and the JAXA-affiliated Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). He has been involved in JAXA’s planned space exploration mission BepiColombo, an ESA-JAXA mission to Mercury, as well as the MMX. Yamakawa has also worked on space debris mitigation technology, the Earth-Moon transfer trajectory and solar sails, among others.
Whilst assuming his position at JAXA, Yamakawa will continue his activities in space policy and retain his positions as Member of Committee on National Space Policy, Cabinet Office, and Secretary General, Secretariat of Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy, Cabinet Secretariat.