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Kiku - ETS Engineering Test Satellite

Japan's Engineering Test Satellite (ETS) series began on 1975-09-09. Japanese Engineering Test Satellite (JETS) was a short octagonal right prism with two octagonal pyramids terminating either end of the prism. Both pyramids were truncated with a small end plate. The satellite was approximately 90 cm in height and diameter. All faces other than the end plates were covered with solar cells. Several antennas and sensors extended from the spacecraft. The objectives of this satellite launch were to confirm launching technology, to develop satellite tracking and controlling technology, and to carry out other technological experiments and procedures. Initial satellite operation, including attitude control and extension of four very long antennas, was nominal. ETS-I was NASDA's first satellite launched with the objectives of acquiring all-around information on N-series launch vehicles, orbit injection and tracking and control. KIKU finished its operation on April 28,1982.

NASDA's first GEO platform ETS II (also known as Kiku-2) was launched 1977-02-23 by an N-l booster and stationed at 130 degrees E. Kiku 2 was a Japanese engineering technology satellite launched to acquire technologies to launch, track, and control geostationary satellites. It carried a propagation experiment of millemeter and quasi-millimeter waves. Its weight at launch was 245 kg and was cylindrical, 191 cm high including antenna, with a diameter of 141 cm. Its expected life was as least 6 months. This mission not only validated the GEO launch technique but also tested spacecraft control systems vital to future communications satellites. Experimental communications at 1.7 GHz, 11.5 GHz, and 34.5 GHz were tested. The 130-kg, spin-stabilized ETS II Kiku-2 finished its operation on December 10,1990, and left the geostationary orbit.

Engineering Test Satellite-4 (ETS-4) was launched by the National Space Development Agency of Japan from the Tanegashima Space Center 1981-02-11 using the N-2 launch vehicle. The satellite's national name was Kiku-3. KIKU-4(ETS-III) was developed to acquire data for designing earth observation satellites with high power requirements. Also, KIKU-4 completed testing of three-axis Attitude Control, deployable solar panels, movable heat control and ion engine operation. On March 8,1985,Kiku ran out of fuel for the Attitude Control and finished its operation.

ETS 3 was launched by Japan 1982-09-03. The satellite nickname is Kiku-4. Objectives were to test the 3-axis attitude control function, solar array paddle deployment, thermal control, and instrument functions. KIKU-3(ETS-IV) confirmed N-II launch vehicle capability prior to the launching of 350-kg class geostationar meteorological, communications and broadcasting satellites and it performed testing of on-board equipment. KIKU-3 finished its operation on December 24 ,1984 ,because of deterioation of solar battery.

The first ETS series spacecraft to have a specific communications objective was ETS V (Kiku-5), launched on 27 August 1987 by an H-I booster and stationed at 150 degrees E. ETS V was Japan's first 3-axis stabilized GEO satellite with an on-station mass of 550 kg. KIKU-5(ETS-V) was launched to confirm H-I (3-stage) launch vehicle performance, as well as to establish basic geostationary three-axis bus system technology for future satellite applications, amass independent technology required for next-generation satellite development and carry out experiments for mobile communications satellite. The spacecraft carried two 1.6/1.5 GHz transponders to test an INMARSAT compatible mobile communications system. The spacecraft bus measured 1.4 m by 1.7 m with a twin solar panel span of 9.7 m. At the end of 1994, ETS V was still positioned near 150 degrees E. KIKU-5 finished its 1.5 year programmed opration on March 31,1989,while AMEX(Aerouautical Mobile. Experimeutal Trauspouder)still keeps gathering data and carring out experments.

ETS Vl, with a wide assortment of communications systems and experiments, was launched on the second mission of the new H-II vehicle on 28 August 1994. Although the H-11 performed as expected and placed the spacecraft into a GTO, the Liquid Apogee Propulsion System (LAPS) malfunctioned, leaving ETS VI in an elliptical orbit of approximately 7,800 km by 38,700 km at an inclination of 13.1 degrees. The spacecraft remained operational, but its non-nominal orbit posed severe experimental limitations and presented unanticipated environmental stresses.

The 2.0-metric-ton (on-station) ETS VI was designed and manufactured by prime contractors Toshiba and Mitsubishi. The spacecraft bus is 2 m x 2.8 m x 3 m and supports two solar arrays (total power = 4.2 kW) with a span of approximately 30 m. The 660-kg payload includes numerous transponder systems, primarily at the higher frequencies of 30/20 GHz and above. A major mission objective was the testing of an inter-satellite communications system utilizing Ka-band, S-band and O-band links. A laser space-ground link was also planned, as were tests of a new ion propulsion system. The design 10-year lifetime was not met, but most of the experiments are expected to be carried out, if not as extensively as planned (References 161-170).

Prior to the ETS VI failure, the next communications-oriented ETS mission was the proposed ETS N which was to be launched about 2001 to test cellular phone technologies. Also under consideration was an ETS VIII which could combine the objectives of ETS VI and N (References 171-172). But nothing came of these plans, and ETS-VII was developed to acquire the basic technologies of rendezvous docking and space robotics which are essential to future space activities.

Kiku 8, also known by its prelaunch name of ETS 8, is a Japanese geostationary, engineering test satellite that was launched by a H-2A rocket from Tanegashima Space Center at 06:32 UT on 18 December 2006. The 5.8 tonne (with fuel) craft carries solar panels and a pair of large wire-mesh antennas, one for transmitting and the other for receiving. The two 28 m x 25 m antennas will enable hand-held phones to communicate with another in S-band, after parking over 146 E longitude.


  • 161. NASDA. National Space Development Agency of Japan, 1994, pp. 17-18, 37.
  • 162. NASDA Report, No. 36, June 1995, p.1.
  • 163. E. Sekigawa, "Japanese Satellite in Errant Orbits, Aviation Week and Space Technology, 5 September 1994, p. 47.
  • 164. S. Mansfield, "Japan's ETS-6 To Highlight Prowess in Space Systems", Space News, 11 -17 April 1994, p. 22.
  • 165. S. Mansfield, "New Engine Fails, Stranding ETS-6", Space News, 5-11 September 1994, pp. 1, 20.
  • 166. T. Sienko, "No Kick for Kiku", Space, November-December 1994, pp. 8-10.
  • 167. "Solar Radiation Strikes Another Blow To ETS-6", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 3 October 1994, p. 66.
  • 168. S. Mansfield, "ETS-6 Failure Report Expected by Year's End", Space News, 5-11 December 1994, p. 6.
  • 169. S. Mansfield, "ETS-6 Achieves Many Objectives", Space News, 10-16 April 1995, p. 18.
  • 170. B.I. Edelson, op. cit., pp. 278-280.
  • 171. "Cellsat Study", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 8 August 1994, p. 13.
  • 172. "NASDA To Seek Funding for Engineering Satellite", Space News, 19-25 September 1994, p. 13.
  • Adapted from: Europe and Asia in Space 1993-1994, Nicholas Johnson and David Rodvold [Kaman Sciences / Air Force Phillips Laboratory]

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Page last modified: 15-05-2014 19:17:41 ZULU