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No.1 (April, 2011) Special Issue on Space Systems

Vol.6 No.1 (April, 2011)

Special Issue on Space Systems

Progress with the implementation of NEC’s Roadmap


NEC set up the project “NEC Space System Business Vision and Space System Business Roadmap” in 2010. As a part of this undertaking, NEC is able to offer “Comprehensive Space Usage Systems” by fusing space technologies and IT/Network technologies. The “Comprehensive Space Usage Systems” are to provide solutions for our users to solve issues not only by providing products of space technologies but also by providing technologies that are capable of fusing space technologies and other technologies.This paper introduces trends in the next generation platforms, such as cloud systems and also describes strategies for space system usages based on cloud systems, as well as for related issues that are yet to be solved.


In order to survive in the space industry market and to cope with the great changes affecting space industry projects it is essential for us to adapt our space business to suit the global market. NEC aims to provide “Global space system solutions” by setting the provision of small satellites as the core item of our space business agenda. To achieve this aim, expansion of our market share as well as improved product supply is essential in order that we are able to effectively enter overseas markets, especially those of the emerging space countries. Our space business agenda aims not only at selling space components but also at providing packaged hardware and software solutions. This policy is significantly different from trying to create business opportunities in the major space countries such as the European countries, the U.S.A., China or Russia. In order to deal with the space businesses of emerging space countries, cooperation between governmental agencies and the private sector is essential to support the business environment in its financial and engineering aspects. This is because such a program would be beyond the capacity of unaided private companies. In consideration of such conditions NEC aims to offer unrivalled solutions for space business in the overseas commercial markets.


From manufacturing business view point, the market for the space has almost matured. For further development in this sector, it is essential to shift the main business focus from equipment manufacturing to service oriented businesses that include systems management and data usage. This paper introduces NEC’s activities in promoting “service oriented businesses for space utilization.”

OGAWA Toshiaki

The ASNARO is a small earth observation and imaging satellite under development by NEC as a consignment contract together with: the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer (USEF) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). It is not simply an engineering test satellite but aims at supplying subsequent models for the needs of future overseas markets. It is supported by some of our latest technologies in introducing standardization and miniaturization and it is being developed accordingly as a small, high-performance, low-priced satellite featuring high market competitiveness.

Technologies/Products supporting roadmap implementation (Satellites/Space station)

KUWAO Fumihiro ・OTSUKA Akiko ・TANAKA Takahiko ・KUMAGAI Hiroki ・
TAKEGAI Tomoki ・SHIMIZU Motomitsu

Japan has developed its first manned space facility by completing the Japan Experiment Module (JEM), KIBO for the International Space Station. In this development, NEC was in charge of systems including the Inter-orbit Communication System and Robot Arm System as well as the JEM Control Processor, various experiment devices and the Operations Control System. Putting the first priority on the safety of astronauts at the same time as pursuing operability, universality and versatility, NEC developed each piece of equipment by adding new manned space development requirements to the existing space development technologies and by coordinating them into the uniquely Japanese technologies. At present, the JEM is monitored and is operated on 24-hour schedules for performing various space experiments.

OSHIMA Takeshi ・SASAKI Tokuhito

Launched successfully on May 21, 2010, PLANET-C (AKATSUKI) is Japan’s first inner planet exploration spacecraft. Although it failed in the Venus orbit insertion mission, it is still continuing the flight and it is now targeting a successful insertion attempt in six years time. This paper introduces the system design of the PLANET-C explorer and its associated technologies.

UMESATO Masahiro ・OKAHASHI Takakazu

The solar power sail demonstrator is a probe that navigates by combining propulsion based on the momentum of photons from the Sun and an ion-propulsion engine. It is a middle-sized demonstrator spacecraft developed to demonstrate technologies that will be indispensable in the projected outer planetary exploration toward the Jupiter and its Trojan asteroid. The small solar power sail demonstrator IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft powered by Radiation from the Sun) has been designed to reduce the risks of development in the middle-sized demonstrator program. It has succeeded in the first advanced demonstrations globally of the deployment a large membrane, power generation via power sail and photon acceleration/navigation using sail. This paper reports on the development of the bus technology of the IKAROS by NEC.

IKEGAMI Shingo ・KASE Teiji

Beginning with the “one small step” of commander Armstrong of Apollo 11 in 1969, manned lunar exploration had been halted since Apollo 17 in 1972. In September 14, 2007, Japan restarted a new lunar exploration activity by launching the lunar orbital spacecraft SELENE (KAGUYA).This paper introduces the main specifications of the KAGUYA mission for which NEC acted as the prime coordinator, being in charge of the mission from the development to the operational stages. The operational process from the launch to the end of the mission is also discussed, together with the technology used in the laser altimeter that has also been developed by NEC.

WATANABE Satoru ・HIRAO Akihiro

The Advanced land Observation Satellite “DAICHI”(ALOS) is one of the world’s largest class earth observation satellite launched on January 24, 2006. The primary mission of “DAICHI” is obtaining enormous volume of image data for global topographic mapping and emergency disaster monitoring of the disaster-struck area. It has three remote sensing instruments (PRISM, AVNIR-2 and PALSAR) for the precise ground surface observation.This paper describes practical applications of the images obtained via the three remote sensing instruments over the five year period subsequent to the launch and the ways that the obtained data may contribute to the social infrastructures affecting the lives of the people both inside and outside Japan.

BABA Isao ・OKUI Tamio ・TORIUMI Tsuyoshi

The WINDS (Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite, also called KIZUNA) is a stationary satellite developed for the technological development and demonstration of an ultrahigh-data-rate satellite communications system using the Ka band that has high affinity to the Internet. It enables ultrahigh-data-rate communications experiments all over Japan as well as in the Asia-Pacific region. The effectiveness of the satellite has already been demonstrated by many communications experiments conducted over the three years since the launch, and more experiments are planned for the future. This paper introduces an outline of the WINDS project and discusses the results of the main experiments so far.

KIMURA Tsunekazu ・FUJIMURA Takashi ・ONO Kiyonobu

The needs of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) has recently been increasing. This is because it is an image sensor capable of observing the Earth’s surface regardless of weather or time of the day. Aiming at providing high performance Earth observation services, with the low price and the short delivery term, NEC is developing a small SAR satellite of the 500-kg class by utilizing the SAR system technology, spacecraft design technology and small-sized satellite standardization technology that have been accumulated up to the present. This paper introduces an outline of the small SAR satellite system, the techniques used in its development and the projected global deployment of an Earth observation data service.

Technologies/Products supporting roadmap implementation (Satellite ground system)


To enable a satellite to complete its missions, it is necessary to prepare a ground system equipped with a satellite control function to monitor the satellite’s status and control it, functions to receive the various types of data acquired by the satellite, etc.NEC aims to develop an internationally competitive ground system through standardization, by packaging the required functions and developing technology elements to meet the latest trends.

OKAMOTO Hiroshi ・KASAI Yumi ・NAGAO Masaru

Earth images observed from a satellite (satellite data) contain distortions due to the characteristics of the satellite-borne sensors, which makes it necessary to correct the satellite data with a data processing system so that the users can utilize the data effectively. The data processing system has previously been developed individually for each satellite or per sensor but, in the future, it is desirable to unify the data processing system into a single set of packages (image processing PKGs) that can be used commonly regardless of the satellites and sensors installed in them. NEC is planning to promote the use of satellite data by applying the common image processing package to the satellite data processing system.

Technologies/Products supporting roadmap implementation (Satellite Bus)


NEC boasts achievements in the manufacturing and operation of various spacecraft systems, from communications/broadcasting satellites to meteorological satellites, Earth observation satellites, scientific satellites and space stations. With the MUSES-C (HAYABUSA), which has recently returned to the Earth, NEC demonstrated that it possesses the technologies required for the agile operation of spacecraft in lunar and planetary orbits as well as in low Earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary orbits (GEO). The NEXTAR standard platform is the culmination of these achievements and enables public institutions and private businesses to start up remote sensing operations using observation sensors and communications equipment promptly.

YONEDA Masayoshi ・KURII Toshihiro ・KAKINUMA Masahiro ・

Satellite-borne equipment includes components that are commonly used by any satellite. These components include earth sensors, transponders, GPS receivers and star trackers. NEC supplies these components to almost all Japanese satellites, and some of them, such as the earth sensor, have a big share of overseas markets as well.This paper introduces the development of compact, high-performance standard components by NEC aiming at increasing shares further in overseas markets.

Technologies/Products supporting roadmap implementation (Communication)


NEC supplies the rocket-borne communications equipment that assists the launch of satellites to the H-IIA/B launch vehicles as part of the corporation’s wide variety of technologies supporting satellite communications. NEC also developed the large deployable reflector (LDR) for the Engineering Test Satellite VIII (ETS-VIII), and this is expected to be applied to the Earth Observation Satellites and the Mobile Communications Satellites as the next-generation satellite communications technology. Other NEC developments targeting the implementation of high-capacity communications include the development and demonstration of optical communications equipment for the Optical Inter-orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite (OICETS).

KOJIMA Masanobu ・YAMASA Yasuhiko ・SUZUKI Wakou

Among the space businesses of NEC, the business related to communications/broadcasting satellite transponder equipment has achieved a large number of sales, even to the severe overseas satellite market, and its excellent technology and reliability are highly evaluated by worldwide satellite manufacturers. NEC is attempting to expand this business field by developing new devices and standardizing equipment while putting emphasis on areas with high added value. This paper is intended to introduce the present status of transponder equipment as well as perspectives for its future.

Technologies/Products supporting roadmap implementation (Observation sensors)


Earth observation from satellites has recently been increasing in importance in global environment monitoring for dealing with climate change, monitoring natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity and torrential rains and collecting security-related intelligence. Since the development of the first satellite-borne optical observation sensor in Japan, NEC has developed a large number of satellite-borne optical sensors. This paper introduces NEC’s optical sensors, including the Thermal And Near-infrared Sensor for Carbon Observation (TANSO) mounted on the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT, or IBUKI) launched in 2009, the high-resolution OPtical Sensor (OPS) mounted on the Advanced Satellite with New system ARchitecture for Observation (ASNARO) under development, the Hyperspectral Image SUIte (HISUI) and the Second-generation GLobal Imager (SGLI) mounted on the Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM).


The Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) installed in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) core satellite is the successor to the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission/Precipitation Radar (TRMM/PR) that was launched in 1997 and is still in use. It observes global precipitation distribution, including high-latitude regions, using two radars in the Ku and Ka bands. Meanwhile, the Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) installed in the EarthCARE satellite observes the clouds of entire globe with approximately 10 times greater sensitivity than that of existing satellite-borne cloud radars. The CPR is the first satellite-borne millimeter-wave radar in the world with a Doppler velocity measuring function. These technologies will be applied to radars installed in earth observation and security-related satellites in the future.

KIMURA Tsunekazu ・FUJIMURA Takashi ・ONO Kiyonobu

Since the images from SAR data were successfully reproduced for the first time in Japan in 1980, NEC has been advancing R&D into various SAR image processing. High-level processing of SAR data enables acquisition of 3D information on the earth’s surface, extraction of its changes and “feature extraction” that is one of SAR advantages for target analysis. This paper introduces the latest SAR image processing technologies including; the polarimetric SAR image analysis software “RSGIS-SAR,” ScanSAR/ScanSAR interferometry and bistatic SAR image reproduction.


The many uses of space technology have found applications in various fields that affect our lifestyles and they have thereby tended to become more or less essential components of our every day lives. This trend has aroused attention as a new growth area in satellite based earth observations that are aimed at improvements in personal safety from a national perspective. This paper introduces the satellite technologies associated with earth observations that are being applied to industrial waste monitoring. It also discusses a recently deployed industrial waste monitoring system. We intend that these technologies will contribute to a wider promotion of the use and application of satellite imaging systems that have previously been limited to use by a small number of specialists.

Technologies/Products supporting roadmap implementation (Fundamental technologies)

OKA Shinji ・TAKEMURA Kouji ・IWASAKI Masaaki ・MARUYA Makoto

NEC’s space technologies are supported by a broad range of fundamental technologies. Production innovation activities have brought space technology from a field of work dependent on the skills and techniques of expert workers to the forefront of production innovation. Space technology is inextricably linked to material development. NEC developed the most advanced reaction-sintered SiC optical mirror material, which makes it possible to manufacture a mirror with light weight and high strength. Meanwhile, spacecraft on-board software technology is being developed to meet the trends of diversification and increased precision of mission requirements. Image processing for more advanced utilization of remote sensing data is a technology that responds directly to the needs of data users. This paper introduces the above fundamental technologies supporting NEC’s space technologies and their development process.

TERADA Hiroshi ・MATSUOKA Masatoshi ・TANAKA Kimie ・UKAI Chiaki

Trajectory design for lunar/planetary probes requires technologies different from those required by Earth-orbiting satellites. NEC has long been in charge of trajectory design for many lunar and planetary probes in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and its predecessor organization. This paper gives an outline of the main technology elements involved and the trajectory design characteristics of various projects based on them.

YANO Yoshiyuki ・IKEDA Naomi ・SUZUKI Takahiro ・NAKAMURA Masao ・
YASHIRO Tomohisa ・NAKAYA Naoto

The operating voltages of space grade MPUs and FPGAs are getting lower. Therefore, the operating voltage drop caused by interconnection resistance hinders the stable operation of these kinds of components. To solve this problem, the necessity of a POL (Point of Load) DC/DC converter, a power supply installed adjacent to the MPU or FPGA, is increasing more than ever. This paper reports on the development overview of the POL DC/DC converter and on the results of reliability and environmental testing.


The requirements for the size and weight reduction of electronic devices should also be met by the printed wiring boards (PWBs) used for space development through the maintenance of high reliability in this special environment. To make this possible, Yamanashi Avionics, Co., Ltd. (YACL) is continuing production activities by applying evaluation testing based on the specifications for the acquisition of JAXA qualifications. This paper reports on the design specifications of NEC’s JAXA-qualified parts together with perspectives on their future deployment.

Technologies/Products supporting roadmap implementation (Guidance control computer)

HAYASHI Nobuyoshi

The H-IIA/H-IIB are the main launch vehicles domestically developed in Japan. With 14 consecutive successful launches among a total of 20 attempts, they have now acquired international reliance and are improving their competitiveness. NEC is involved in this project with the guidance control computer (GCC). As part of development for dealing with component depletion, NEC is developing a new GCC featuring high speed, high performance, compact size and light weight by adopting a new MPU. This paper introduces the circumstances of the development of past computers for launch vehicle together with the features, functions and performance of the new GCC and the efforts NEC will make with regard to computer systems for launch vehicle in the future.

Asteroid probe MUSES-C (HAYABUSA)


The MUSES-C (HAYABUSA) is the first asteroid probe to have landed on a celestial body beyond the earth’s atmosphere that is further out than the Moon and to have brought samples back to Earth. NEC coordinated the MUSES-C project, and it was in overall charge of the design, manufacture, testing and operations of the entire system as well as of much of the payload equipment, including the bus components and the ion powered navigation engines.This paper provides details of the design and operation of the MUSES-C project. It also discusses the results achieved from its development and operation and the prospects for future commercial ventures.

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