Vol.1 Exploring the possible applications of
cutting edge technology
for the 2030 Space Solar Power Station

Katsuo Kisara
JAXA R&D, Unexplored Technology Center, Head Researcher in the Precision Mission Research Group

Shosaku Yamamoto
Vice President of Hilltop Co., Ltd., Engineering lecturer at Nagoya Institute of Technology

Getting to know Kyoto Shisaku

JAXA R&D, Unexplored Technology Center, Head Researcher in the Precision Mission Research Group Katsuo Kisara

JAXA R&D, Unexplored Technology Center, Head Researcher in the Precision Mission Research Group

Katsuo Kisara

Kisara(JAXA):
I first heard the Kyoto Shisaku name at Tokyo Big Site. I think it was at an expo they attended where they showed off some sort of insect. That’s when I first learned of them and remember thinking we could use them for something. I wanted to ask them to do something special for us, since they can do extremely precise processing.

Selecting Kyoto Shisaku for the Space Solar Power Station

Kisara:
Finally we ended up deciding to prototype a base for the space solar power mirror using sheet metal processing. We thought about what makers we could work with who could realize 1sq meter 100g mirror using already existing melding technology. That’s when we chose Kyoto Shisaku as one of the companies.

Why we requested Kyoto companies

Kisara:
While JAXA’s headquarters are in Tokyo, we have the Kakuda Space Center in Miyagi prefecture, so dealing with separate locations, whether Tokyo or Kyoto, is all the same. Distance is not a factor. While we’d already had experience dealing with big-name manufacturers and processors, we were also doing business with small local start-up companies. For example, a small start up in Sendai does the actual research for our rocket engine R&D. I know that if these companies have the will, they have a huge amount of power and ability, so for the super-light mirror, it felt natural to ask Kyoto Shisaku.

Yamamoto(Hilltop Co., Ltd.):
My heart jumped when we received the offer from JAXA. Space is something that we had aimed for ― it’s a dream ― we didn’t think that we’d actually get this kind of dream offer. So we felt an extremely large sense of satisfaction even having just a little connection to the project. As like with the development of Osaka’s satellite “Maido #1,” if we’re going to be associated with space research, we have a strong desire to leave our footprint. As a member company we are all very hopeful. In this case, we believe we can provide new ideas for not only cutting but even sheet metal.

Kisara:
This is our first request [with KSN], but we are extremely satisfied. Additionally, we participated in a meeting on achievement. Companies with cutting edge processing technologies gathered together, including large corporations and companies from Kanto.

Yamamoto:
Being able to mostly realize the first goal for the main body gave us a lot of energy.

During development of SSPS

Vice President of Hilltop Co., Ltd., Engineering lecturer at Nagoya Institute of Technology Shosaku Yamamoto

Vice President of Hilltop Co., Ltd., Engineering lecturer at Nagoya Institute of Technology

Shosaku Yamamoto

Kisara:
I think there were many challenges during development.

Yamamoto:
t is a really big request, so indeed at first we kept making thing that would warp, and things were quite different than we had thought. Up until now, in trying to take the processing technology to this level, there were many things we could not predict, so we made progress all while failing repeatedly. But even so, these failures will lead to technological growth, so I felt it was all for the better.

Kisara:
The SSPS is a research project looking to make a solar power plant about the size of a nuclear power plant that sits in orbit and sends energy to energy-hungry Japan. The biggest problem is the weight of the rocket when it launches, and in order to make it light enough, a mirror that can collect a large amount of sunlight while only weighing 100 grams per 1 square meter is necessary. Even though we felt that it could be done somehow, when you actually look at it, it’s a real challenging figure. When we asked sensible companies, they all refused, saying it wouldn’t be possible. Even still, we thought that we’d like to ask someone to give it a try. We couldn’t get our request fulfilled from unwilling companies, so we thought we would pose it as a challenge specifically to places who thought it was interesting. (laughs)

Impression of the work process

Kisara:
At first I only knew of them from the expo they attended, so I was only aware that they were a group of small to mid-sized companies. I did know that they were making good objects, but after actually coming here, and talking to Mr, Yamamoto at Hilltop Co., Ltd. for example, and seeing the strength of these companies cultivating Japanese technology, I feel that Japanese technology is still very healthy.

Yamamoto:
Than you. For me, my impression of JAXA hasn’t changed at all since we started. Up until meeting, I was concerned that maybe they would be a difficult bureaucracy, but that wasn’t the case at all, and we candidly connected. I did wonder whether they would be opposed to working with us if we couldn’t realize their goals, but that wasn’t the case ― they took a stance that we were going to test the limits and challenge ourselves together, so it was a big relief. The stance they take of “giving a hand little by little in order to improve the technology of Japan’s manufacturers” is absolutely wonderful, and I think it was fantastic.

Katsuo Kisara,  JAXA R&D, Unexplored Technology Center, Head Researcher in the Precision Mission Research Group and Shosaku Yamamoto, Vice President of Hilltop Co., Ltd., Engineering lecturer at Nagoya Institute of Technology