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History of ISAS

History of ISAS

The history of ISAS began in 1955 with the Pencil rocket launch experiment by the University of Tokyo. Three years later, the university developed a rocket capable of reaching an altitude of 60 km and joined the international earth observation program (International Geophysical Year: IGY) by observing wind and temperature in the upper atmosphere.

In 1964, the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science (ISAS) was founded in the University of Tokyo. In 1970, Japan's first artificial satellite OHSUMI was launched and put into orbit by an L-4S rocket using solid propellant. Since then, ISAS has cultivated its unique nature wherein its missions are achieved based on concurrent, synergistic efforts of two groups of people: space science staff who research the mysteries of space, and engineering R&D staff working to meet with the needs of space science. This partnership is a characteristic of ISAS.

ISAS is devoted to space science, to the collaboration of scientists and engineers to research and develop solid-propellant rockets and scientific satellites to meet the needs of space science researchers. In 1981, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) was reborn as a joint research organization among Japanese universities. Since the launch of OHSUMI in 1970, ISAS in its various incarnations has launched 27 scientific satellites and solar system explorers. ISAS is now one of the leading centers of excellence in the world of space science.

In the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (founded in 2003 by the merger of ISAS, NASDA and NAL), space science is defined as one of the pillars of its activities. We expect to continue performing vigorous research and making further contributions to scientific progress in the world, by combining the powers of researchers at universities across the country.

History of Japanese Space Reserch

Timeline of ISAS
1955 April The Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo, horizontally launched Pencil rocket in Kokubunji, Tokyo.
1955 August The Akita Rocket Range was established at Michikawa Beach, Akita Pref. (where Pencil and Baby rockets were launched).
1957-1958 International Geophysical Year (IGY)
1958 June K-6, the two-stage Kappa rocket, reached an altitude of 60km.
1960 July K-8-1, reached an altitude of 190km. World's first measurement of ion density.
1961 December K-9L-2, measurement of electron density and temperature over an altitude of 300km.
1962 February Kagoshima Space Center established.
1962 May Failure of launch K-8-10, last launch at Akita Rocket Range. (A total of 88 rockets were launched.)
1962 October Noshiro Testing Center established.
1962 November Launch of K-9M-1. (A total of 81 rockets were launched from 1962 to 1988.)
1963 April Development of M (Mu) rockets started.
1964 April The Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science was founded in the University of Tokyo.
1964 July L-3-1 of the Lambda rocket series was launched and reached an altitude of 1,000km.
1964 July Launch of Japan's first weather observation rocket MT-135-1. (A total of 73 rockets were launched from 1964 to 2000.)
1965 June Scientific satellite plan presented at the Scientific Satellite Symposium.
1965 November Launch of sounding rocket K-10-1. (A total of 14 rockets were launched from 1965 to 1980.)
1966 March Launch of sounding rocket L-3H-1. (A total of nine rockets were launched from 1966 to 1977.)
1966 July Scientific balloon experiments started at the temporary testing site in Taiyomura, Ibaraki Pref.
1966 September L-4S-1 was launched.
* Satellite was not put into orbit due to the abnormal flight of the 3rd stage caused by the improper separation of the 2nd and 3rd stages.
1966 December L-4S-2 was launched.
* Satellite was not put into orbit due to ignition failure of the final stage.
1967 February L-3H-3 was launched, reaching an altitude of 2,150km.
1967 April L-4S-3 was launched.
* Satellite was not put into orbit due to ignition failure of the 3rd stage.
1968 July Scientific balloon experiment site moved to Haranomachi, Fukushima Pref.
1968 September Launch of sounding rocket S-160-1. (A total of four rockets were launched from 1968 to 1972.)
1969 January Launch of sounding rocket S-300-1. (A total of three rockets were launched in 1969.)
1969 August Launch of sounding rocket S-210-1. (A total of 13 rockets were launched from 1969 to 1982.)
1969 September L-4S-4 was launched.
* Satellite was not put into orbit because the 3rd stage collided with the upper stage.
1970 February L-4S-5 was launched, successfully putting Japan's first artificial satellite OHSUMI into orbit. (Japan became the 4th nation to succeed in satellite launch, following USSR, USA and France.)
1970 February Sounding rocket developed by the University of Tokyo started observation at the Showa Station in Antarctica.
1970 September M-4S-1 was launched.
* Satellite was not put into orbit due to sequence malfunction after 4th stage ignition.
1970 November Sanriku Balloon Center established.
1971 February M-4S-2 was launched, carrying TANSEI (MS-T1) satellite.
1971 July Meteorological rocket developed by the University of Tokyo started observation at the Meteorological Rocket Observation Station (Ryori, Iwate Pref.) of the Japan Meteorological Agency.
1971 September M-4S-3 was launched, carrying SHINSEI (MS-F2), the first Japanese scientific satellite.
1972 August M-4S-4 was launched, carrying DENPA (REX). It aimed to observe plasma wave, plasma density, etc., in space.
1974-1978 Measurement of Crab Nebula's hard X-ray by scientific balloon.
1974 February M-3C-1 was launched, carrying TANSEI-2 (MS-T2).
1975 January Launch of sounding rocket S-310-1.
1975 February M-3C-2 was launched, carrying TAIYO (SRATS). It aimed to observe soft X-ray and ultraviolet radiation from the sun, etc.
1975 October The Science Council, the Ministry of Education, submitted a report on "Promotion of Space Science."
1976 February M-3C-3 was launched, carrying CORSA satellite.
* The satellite was not put into orbit due to control system failure.
1977 February SEPAC scientific experiment project using the Space Shuttle and Spacelab-1 started.
1977 February M-3H-1 was launched, carrying TANSEI-3 (MS-T3).
1977 July Static firing test of liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine started at Noshiro Testing Center.
1978 February M-3H-2 was launched, carrying KYOKKO (EXOS-A).
1978 September M-3H-3 was launched JIKIKEN (EXOS-B).
1979 February M-3C-4 was launched, carrying X-ray astronomy satellite HAKUCHO (CORSA-b).
1979 April Space Science and Technological Information Analysis Center established.
1980 January Launch of sounding rocket S-520-1.
1980 February M-3S-1 was launched, carrying TANSEI-4 (MS-T4).
1980 April Research and preparatory committee formed in the University of Tokyo to create a "central laboratory for space science."
1981 February M-3S-2 was launched, carrying HINOTORI (ASTRO-A).
1981 April The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science founded.
1983 February M-3S-3 was launched, carrying TENMA (ASTRO-B), X-ray astronomy satellite.
1983 November SEPAC experiment conducted.
1984 February M-3S-4 succeeded in launching OHZORA (EXOS-C).
1984 October Usuda Deep Space Center established.
1985 January M-3SII-1 succeeded in launching Japan's first interplanetary explorer SAKIGAKE(MS-T5).
1985 August M-3SII-2 succeeded in launching SUISEI (PLANET-A) to study Halley's Comet.
1987 February M-3SII-3 succeeded in launching X-ray astronomy satellite GINGA (ASTRO-C).
1987 May Space Utilization Research Center founded.
1989 February Aurora observation satellite AKEBONO (EXOS-D) launched with M-3SII-4.
1989 April The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science moved from Tokyo to Sagamihara city, Kanagawa Pref.
1990 January M-3SII-5 launched engineering testing satellite HITEN (MUSES-A).
1991 August M-3SII-6 launched solar observation satellite YOHKOH (SOLAR-A).
1992 July Launch of GEOTAIL, a satellite to observe the magnetospheric tail.
1993 February M-3SII-7 launched X-ray astronomy satellite ASCA (ASTRO-D).
1993 April The Center for Planning and Information Systems established (converted from Space Science and Technological Information Analysis Center).
1995 January M-3SII-8 launched EXPRESS satellite.
* Because of 2nd stage failure, the satellite could not reach its planned orbit and fell to the earth in its third rotation. It was found in Africa 10 months later and provided helpful data for reentry test.
1995 March Launch of Space Flyer Unit (SFU) and Geostationary Meteorological Satellite-5 Himawari-5 by H-II launch vehicle No.3.
1995 April Center for Advanced Spacecraft Technology established.
1996 January The SFU was retrieved by the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-72).
1997 February Radio Astronomy Satellite HALCA (MUSES-B) was launched by M-V-1.
1998 January Launch of sounding rocket SS-520-1.
1998 July Mars Orbiter NOZOMI (PLANET-B) was launched by M-V-3.
1999 May Super Pressure Balloon experiment.
2000 February X-ray astronomy satellite (ASTRO-E) was launched by M-V-4.
* The launcher could not put the satellite into orbit because of the lack of final velocity due to 1st stage nozzle failure.
2001 January Placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology following a reorganization of government ministries.
2002 February DASH (Demonstrator of Atmospheric Reentry System with Hyper Velocity) was launched by H-IIA launch vehicle No. 2.
* DASH could not reach its planned orbit because of failure of separation from the payload mount.
2002 May Ultra-thin film high altitude balloon marked the world's highest record of an altitude of 53km.


Asteroid sample-return spacecraft HAYABUSA (MUSES-C) was launched by M-V-5.
2003 October Establishment of an Independent Administrative Agency, the "Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)", merging three aerospace organizations, the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan, and the National Space Development Agency of Japan.
2003 December Mars orbiter NOZOMI gave up its injection into orbit around Mars.
* NOZOMI could not reach its planned orbit because of control engine trouble.
2005 July X-ray astronomy satellite SUZAKU (ASTRO-EII) was launched by M-V-6.
2005 August Launch of the Optical Inter-orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite Kirari (OICETS) and Innovative Technology Demonstration Experiment small sattelite REIMEI (INDEX) by the Russian launch vehicle Dnepr.
2005 September Successful arrival and observation on the asteroid Itokawa by the asteroid explorer HAYABUSA.
2006 February Infrared astronomy satellite AKARI (ASTRO-F) was launched by M-V-8.
2006 September Solar physics satellite HINODE (SOLAR-B) was launched by M-V-7.
2007 September Lunar explorer KAGUYA (SELENE) was launched by H-IIA-13.
2010 May Venus Climate Orbiter AKATSUKI (PLANET-C) was launched by H-IIA-17.
2010 June Asteroid explorer HAYABUSA came back to the Earth , capsule recovered.
2013 September Extreme ultraviolet spectroscope for Exospheric Dynamics HISAKI (SPRINT-A) was launched by Epsilon.
2014 May Asteroid Explorer Hayabusa2 was launched by H-IIA-26.
2015 April As JAXA’s status was changed from an independent administrative agency to a “National Research and Development Agency,” its organization was restructured.
2015 April Aurora Observation AKEBONO (EXOS-D) operation completed.(Operation period: 26 years and two months)
2015 December Venus Climate Orbiter AKATSUKI (PLANET-C) inserted into Venus' orbit.
2016 February X-ray Astronomy Satellite "Hitomi" (ASTRO-H) was launched by H-IIA-30.