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Supporting Kibo

Operations System

Last Updated: June 30, 2008

Kibo operations is jointly monitored and controlled from the Space Station Operations Facility (SSOF) at the Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC), in Japan, and the Space Station Mission Control Center (MCC) at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), in Houston, TX, where the overall operations of the ISS are controlled.

For exchange of data, video images, still images or voice communications between Kibo on orbit and TKSC, a communication network through the US Tracking Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) and the White Sands Space Harbor (ground satellite stations) in US is established.

In the future, Japan’s own satellite, Data Relay Test Satellite (DRTS) known as “Kodama” will be used for direct communications between Kibo and TKSC. The DRTS is expected to be an efficient network resource, especially when huge amount of data (such as experiment data) are downlinked to the ground from Kibo.

Operation System

Communication with Kibo

Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC)

The Tsukuba Space Center (TKSC) is JAXA’s largest space development and utilization research complex. As Japan's primary site for human spaceflight research and operations, TKSC operates the following facilities in support of the Kibo mission.

Space Station Test Building

Comprehensive Kibo system tests were conducted in this building. The main purpose of the tests was to verify function, physical interface and performance of the entire Kibo system including all the associated elements (Pressurized Module, Exposed Facility, Experiment Logistics Module-Pressurized Section and Exposed Section and Remote Manipulator System). In addition, subsystems, payloads, and ground support equipment were all tested in this building. Engineering support for Kibo operations is provided from this building.

Space Experiment Laboratory (SEL)

The following activities are conducted in this building:

  1. Development of technologies required for space experiments
  2. Preparation of Kibo experiment programs
  3. Experiment data analysis and support

Astronaut Training Facility (ATF)

The following activities are conducted in this building:

  1. JAXA astronaut candidate training
  2. Astronaut training and health care

This building is a primary site for Japan’s space medicine research.

Weightless Environment Test Building (WET)

This facility provides a simulated weightless environment, using water buoyancy, for astronaut training. Design verification tests on various Kibo components, and development of preliminary EVA procedures, were conducted in this facility.

Space Station Operation Facility (SSOF)

The Space Station Operation Facility (SSOF) is responsible for controlling Kibo operations. At the SSOF, operation of Kibo systems and payloads are supervised and Kibo operation plans are prepared in cooperation with NASA’s Space Station Control Center (SSCC) and Payload Operation Integration Center (POIC).

The SSOF is responsible for the following:

  1. Monitoring and controlling Kibo operating systems
  2. Monitoring and controlling Japanese experiments onboard Kibo
  3. Implementing operation plans
  4. Supporting launch preparation

The SSOF consists of the following sections:

  1. Mission Control Room (MCR)

    The MCR provides real-time Kibo support on a 24-hour basis. This includes monitoring the health and status of Kibo’s operating systems, payloads, sending commands, and real-time operational planning.

  2. User Operations Area (UOA)

    The UOA distributes the status of Japanese experiments and provides collected data to the respective users that are responsible for the experiment and the subsequent analysis.

  3. Operations Planning Room

    The OPR is responsible for the planning of on-orbit and ground operations based on the power distribution, crew resources, and data transmission capacity. If the baseline plans need to be changed, adjustments will be conducted in tandem with the Mission Control Room, the User Operations Area, and NASA.

  4. Operations Rehearsal Room

    The ORR provides training for flight controllers, and conducts integrated rehearsals and joint simulations with NASA.

  5. Engineering Support Room (ESR)

    The ESR provides engineering support for Kibo operations. In this room, the JEM Engineering Team (JET) monitors the data downlinked to the Mission Control Room (MCR) from Kibo, and provides engineering support as required.

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