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.

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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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