| PREFACE |
Life on Earth started in the sea, then moved to land and then to the sky. Mankind, now in the forefront of evolution is using science and technology to move into space.
Mankind has been long seeking answers to basic questions: Why does space and the solar system exist? How was life created on the Earth? Scientific research into those question conducted in space will become increasingly important in the 2lst century. Knowledge obtained by space activities is likely to make us all think differently about the universe, the Earth, and life itself, contributing to the creation of a new philosophy and culture, and to the establishment of an intellectual, mature society.
As we have already seen, satellite services have become an essential part of our daily lives. These services include satellite communication and broadcasting, navigation by the global positioning system (GPS) for ships and cars, and weather forecasts by meteorological satellites. These satellite services will become more sophisticated , an indispensable part of an advanced information society, and contribute to improved life styles. In addition, unique characteristics of space such as the microgravity environment is expected to yield new materials and medicines.
Satellites can also detect and observe accurately changes in the weather, oceans , and land surfaces, as well as global warming, deforestation, increase in desertification, the state of ozone layer, and disasters. Activities in space, then, have considerable potential for contributing to science, and for preserving the environment.
Furthermore, space technology must be high reliable and operate in a severe environment. As such, it is a highly sophisticated generic technology which integrates various fields of science and technology. Efforts to develop and advance space technology could yield new industrial technologies in fields such as materials, computer, robotics, electronics, communications, and information processing. It is expected to create a new industrial sector using these technologies.
Finally, space can be one of the most challenging fields for young people to pursue. It is, therefore, very important to make young people dream of space, and give them an enterprising spirit. This will contribute to development, not only in science and technology, but also in other fields, as well as maintain the vitality of our economy and society.
With the importance of developing space in mind, Japan has made incessant efforts in this field, beginning with the development of small rockets at Tokyo University's Institute of Industrial Science. Since then, Japan has become highly regarded by the international community in various fields of space science. In space development and application fields , such as communications, broadcasting, and meteorological satellites, Japan has developed its own technology. Through successful launches of the H-II, and the development of various satellites, Japan has achieved world class standards in some space technologies.
The US and Russia are now shifting the emphasis of their space programs from military projects and matters of national prestige, to cost/benefit contexts and high technology development for use in commercial applications.
In addition, Europe is actively promoting commercial launch services, and China is participating in commercial activities with its own technology. There is thus a growing emphasis among those major countries on the civilian use of space.
Another new development in space is Russia's participation in the International Space Station Project, a collaborative project between the US, Europe, Japan, and Canada. That international cooperation is likely to become common, especially in the field of large space development projects like the space station.
Two factors can thus be identified as important themes for worldwide space development in the 2lst century : civilian use and international cooperation.
As a result of the above- mentioned changes at home and abroad, Japan should now take a new approach to its space activities in the 2lst century. We should recognize the significance of space development and the world wide trend towards both civilian use and international cooperation in space activities. We have to play an active role in international space projects by improving our level of our space technology, and by pursuing the use of space from a global standpoint.
The Basic Law on Science and Technology enacted in November 1995 proclaims the promotion of science and technology as one of the most important national themes, and requires that science and technology be promoted in a well- balanced, well-organized manner. We consider it extremely important not only to encourage space science and earth science, but also to stimulate R & D in advanced space technologies in order to create new technology or new industries . To promote science and technology in accordance with the afore mentioned Basic Law, we must pursue more robust and qualified space development.
The Space Activities Commission formulated the Fundamental Policy for Japan's Space Activities, a long-term basic guideline for Japan's space activities, in March 1978. Since then the Commission has revised the policy twice, in February 1984 and June 1989, to accommodate changes in the domestic and world situations.
The Space Activities Commission has now revised the policy again, based upon the above-mentioned notions and upon the report called " Toward the Creation of a Space Age in the New Century " produced by the Special Committee on Long- Term Vision, one of the Committees under the Commission. The revised version should shape the future direction and framework of Japan's space activities for the next ten years.
To ensure the appropriateness of Japan's space development policy, the revised version will be reviewed regularly in light of progress in science and technology, or on domestic and foreign events.