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Report on the Kibo-ABC Workshop at the 27th Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF)

  • Kibo Utilization Office for Asia (KUOA)
  • Experiment at Kibo


The Kibo-ABC Workshop was held online on November 29, 2021. The event was co-chaired by Dr. Doan Minh Chung of the VAST-STI—the Institute of Space Technology, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology—and Mr. Tanigaki of JAXA. This year, as in the previous year, the workshop was held online due to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus; despite this many institutions participated.

Kibo-ABC is an initiative organized under the Space Frontier Working Group (SFWG) of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-27). Members of Kibo-ABC member countries/region hold monthly web meetings, and the Kibo-ABC Workshop brings members together to report on the activities of the various Kibo-ABC missions and discuss future activities. The workshop was attended by 55 participants from 21 organizations in 14 countries/region.

Figure 1: Photo of Kibo-ABC workshop attendees

Main Topic 1: 2nd Kibo-RPC

One of the main topics was the Kibo Robot Programming Challenge (Kibo-RPC), which was held for the second time this year. This project is an educational mission in which participants create programs for Astrobee (NASA's ISS free-flying robot) and compete in terms of accuracy and speed in solving problems. This contributes to human resource development in Japan and other regions. The number of participating countries in the second round increased from the first, with a total of 286 teams and 905 participants from 11 countries/region (Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam). The Final Round was held on October 24, 2021 at the ISS / Kibo with the results being broadcasted on YouTube JAXA Channel.

At the Kibo-ABC workshop, 9 countries/regions that participated in the Kibo-RPC reported on the results of the Preliminary Round held in their countries and the media coverage of the event. Some countries also held their own online events and workshops to provide participants with further educational opportunities and promote human resource development. In the Question and Answer session, lively questions generated discussion about how they managed teams of different nationalities, and the contents of their own study sessions. At the end there was a discussion on how to increase participation, as some countries had difficulties in gathering participants due to COVID-19. The workshop was a great success, and we could sense the strong interest and willingness of the participating institutions to take part in the Kibo-RPC.

Main Topic 2: Asian Herbs in Space (AHiS)

The second topic of discussion was the Asian Herb Space Experiment (AHiS), the third experiment of the Space Seeds for Asian Future (SSAF) project. The goal is to spark interest and curiosity in space among youth. It consists of Mission 1, in which herbs grown in orbit are analyzed by researchers to evaluate the effects of the space environment, and Mission 2, in which various educational programs are conducted using "herb seeds" from each country/region flown in space. Both Mission 1 and Mission 2 will be completed in 2021, and some countries/regions have already returned their space experiment samples. Twelve countries/region are participating in AHiS: Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE, and Vietnam.

At the Kibo-ABC workshop, AHiS participating countries/region reported on the preparation status of analysis for Mission 1, preliminary results of ground control experiments, and activities of the educational program for Mission 2. For example, Australia had approximately 250,000 participants in Mission 1 and Mission 2, indicating great interest in this mission and interest in space in general. This mission took several years due to preparations for the space experiment, and the personnel from each country/region were very happy to be able to hold an educational event using seeds that had been successfully flown in space.

Main Topic 3: Asian Tri Zero-G

For the final topic, JAXA proposed to host Asian Try Zero-G, a mission in which Japanese astronauts will conduct space experiments proposed by students in the Asia-Pacific region. JAXA will coordinate with Kibo-ABC members on the details of the program for implementation in 2022.

The results of the Kibo-ABC workshop were reported at the plenary session of APRSAF-27 on December 2, 2021, according to the following document.

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