World’s First Publicly Accessible “Space Avatar” Launched to Space Station

Space Avatar Experience (Credit: avatarin/Clouds Architecture Office)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) – ANA HOLDINGS INC. (hereafter “ANAHD”), avatarin Inc. of the ANA Group (hereafter “avatarin”), and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (hereafter “JAXA”) have announced a new project on the International Space Station(ISS) to release the world’s first space avatar1 experience.

This project is a direct output of the “AVATAR X” program2 which was launched by ANAHD and JAXA in September of 2018 under the JAXA Space Innovation through Partnership and Co-creation initiative (“J-SPARC3”).

Avatarin will deploy the space avatar inside the Japanese experiment module “Kibo” on the ISS which is orbiting the globe at an altitude of 400 km and speed of 8km per second. In a world’s first, the general public will be able to remotely operate this onboard system and view its real-time video stream from a public, non-JAXA facility in Tokyo.

With the cooperation of JAXA, using the Kibo’s paid utilization program4, the space avatar was launched to the ISS aboard the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV9) “KOUNOTORI9” in May 2020 and will be installed near a window on the Kibo module. Individuals operating the system from the ground will have the unique experience of viewing the Earth from aboard the ISS.

Operation of the space avatar system will be made available at an event to be announced and held later this year in Tokyo. Detailed information and updates regarding this event will be made available on avatarin’s website (https://avatarin.com/).

JAXA will provide launch logistics, safety evaluations, and on-station support for this program. This is one of many programs aimed at making the Kibo module available for more commercial applications in the future. JAXA believes that robotic avatar technology will enable more space-based businesses and will continue to collaborate with avatarin, under the J-SPARC initiative, to make this a reality.

1. Avatar

A real-world robot controlled by a human that will enable the operator to see, hear, feel and interact freely in a remote environment in real-time. The intentions of the operator are transmitted to the remote Avatar and resulting sensations such as sight, sound and touch detected by the system are fed back to the operator.

2. AVATAR X program

AVATAR X is a program jointly launched in September 2018 by ANAHD and JAXA, in cooperation with 30 public and private partner organizations. The objective of the program is to explore the use of robotic avatar technology to catalyze new space-based businesses that will provide key services and an unprecedented new-level of human access to space.
https://www.anahd.co.jp/group/en/pr/201809/20180906.html

3. J-SPARC

The JAXA Space Innovation through Partnerships and Co-creation initiative (J-SPARC) is aimed at catalyzing new space-based businesses through open partnerships between JAXA and the private sector.
http://aerospacebiz.jaxa.jp/solution/j-sparc/ (Japanese only)

4. Kibo’s paid utilization program

The Kibo’s paid utilization program of JAXA was established mainly to enable private companies in Japan to use Kibo for their initiatives for the purpose of scientific research and technological development in exchange for exclusive rights to use the result of theses initiatives.