The Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), a Japanese regional augmentation system to the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) is sparking interest across the space enterprise. Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, recently visited the Kamakura, Japan site of the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System Hosted Payload (QZSS-HP), the unique pathfinding national security space cooperation initiative between the United States and Japan.
Ambassador Emanuel met June 20 with Mr. Yasuyuki Kasai, director general, Japanese National Space Policy Secretariat (NSPS), Cabinet Office (CAO); Ms. Asako Ueno, executive director, QZSS Strategy Office (QZSO), NSPS, CAO; Mr. Nozomu Takaki, technical advisor, QZSO, NSPS, CAO; Mr. Tomonori Sato, group president, Defense & Space Systems, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation; and Lt. Col. Brian Fredrickson, QZSS-HP program manager for Space Systems Command (SSC).
Space Systems Command recently delivered two sensor payloads to be integrated into two new Japanese QZSS satellites that will be launched on a Japanese-developed launch vehicle as part of the U.S. Space Force (USSF)-Japan mission.
“International partnerships are important to the United States because that’s where our strength lies,” said F Schnell, director of acquisition, SSC Space Domain Awareness Delta. “It lies in the U.S. and partner nations sharing the full brunt of accomplishing tasks and missions, and having diversity of thought, capabilities, and requirements.”
“Additionally, allied participation allows us to defray costs, incorporate different perspectives and different capabilities,” Schnell continued. “It also makes our adversaries have to look at situations differently. That is truly the benefit of having allied, like-minded partners coming together and saying, ‘This is what’s best for our mutual defense and assurance.’”
The visit took place at Mitsubishi Electric Kamakura Works. Emanuel was on hand to see the first payload integrated with the first host satellite, QZS-6, followed by a briefing on the mission.
The current QZSS constellation consists of four satellites, with plans to expand to eleven recently announced by Japan’s NSPS. The USSF payloads, which were developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratories, will be hosted on QZS-6 and QZS-7.
“We greatly appreciate Mitsubishi Electric Corporation hosting director general Kasai and Ambassador Emanuel,” Fredrickson said. “Space Systems Command, the U.S. Space Force and NSPS are pleased to showcase QZSS-HP’s contribution to the broader U.S.-Japan Alliance as it extends to the space domain.”
SSC has supported the QZSS-HP program as a rapid acquisition and pacesetting partnership effort with Japan since its inception in 2018 and the historic December 2020 Memorandum of Understanding between Japan's NSPS and the USSF that allowed the two countries to break ground and begin execution.
Delivery of the sensors involved USSF’s partnership with Air Mobility Command to secure safe transit from Hanscom Air Force Base's 66th Air Base Wing in Massachusetts to Yokota Air Base's 374th Airlift Wing in Japan. The first sensor was delivered in January; the second, in May.