The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (独立行政法人宇宙航空研究開発機構 Dokuritsu-gyōsei-hōjin Uchū Kōkū Kenkyū Kaihatsu Kikō), literally "Independent Administrative Institution on Aerospace Research and Development "), or JAXA, is Japan's national aerospace agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on October 1, 2003, as an Independent Administrative Institution administered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC). JAXA is responsible for research, technology development and the launch of satellites into orbit, and is involved in many more advanced missions, such as asteroid exploration and possible manned exploration of the Moon. Its motto is One JAXA and its corporate slogan is Reaching for the skies, exploring space.
On October 1, 2003, three organizations were merged to form the new JAXA: Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (or ISAS), the National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL), and National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA).
Before the merger, ISAS was responsible for space and planetary research, while NAL was focused on aviation research. NASDA, which was founded on October 1, 1969, had developed rockets, satellites, and also built the Japanese Experiment Module. The old NASDA headquarters were located at the current site of the Tanegashima Space Center, on Tanegashima Island, 115 kilometers south of Kyūshū. NASDA also trained Japanese astronauts, who flew with the US Space Shuttles.
JAXA uses the H-IIA (H "two" A) rocket from the former NASDA body to launch engineering test satellites, weather satellites, etc. For science missions like X-ray astronomy, JAXA has been using the M-V ("Mu-five") solid-fueled rocket from the former ISAS. For experiments in the upper atmosphere JAXA uses the SS-520, S-520, and S-310 sounding rockets. Read More