German-Japanese cooperation in aerospace


The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are extending their already close cooperation. On 5 April 2022, both partners adopted an extended framework agreement entitled ‘Inter Agency Arrangement for Strategic Partnership’. This agreement is intended to encourage even more synergies and strengthen aerospace research in both countries for their mutual benefit. The goal is also to promote cooperation between the German and Japanese aerospace industries. The extended agreement will form the basis for a wide range of joint activities and projects. The signing took place at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, USA, which is bringing together many global space participants this week.

“German-Japanese cooperation has been characterised by successful joint space missions, such as Hayabusa2. Extending this cooperation to aeronautics research, with the goal of emission-free air transport, is a clear step,” said Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board.

Walther Pelzer, DLR Executive Board Member and Head of the German Space Agency at DLR, was present at the signing. He emphasised: “Germany and Japan share the same values and face similar societal challenges. Japan is therefore an ideal partner for contributing to a modern, mobile, and economically and ecologically responsible society through space research.”

The President of JAXA, Hiroshi Yamakawa, also signed the agreement and said: “DLR has been our outstanding strategic partner for JAXA based on the former framework concluded in 2016. The new Inter-Agency Arrangement for Strategic Partnership on which we made signatures today will pave the way for a further collaboration of JAXA and DLR, and also expand the areas of our cooperation to cover Space Sustainability as well as Research and Development for Automation and Robotics as new ones. We are very much pleased to further strengthen our partnership based on this new Arrangement.”

The cooperation between DLR and JAXA was significantly strengthened with the signing of the first framework agreement for a strategic partnership in 2016. Since then, there have been cooperation priorities in the areas of Earth observation, work on the International Space Station (ISS) and microgravity research, exploration and planetary research, space transport, and space systems and technologies, among others. In addition, the partners have established an annual strategic dialogue at leadership level since 2016, as well as other subject-related exchange programmes. What is new with this extension of the agreement is that all joint activities in the field of aeronautics research are now formally included in the agreement. Now, both partners will cooperate in aircraft design, for example.

A recent highlight has been the collaboration between DLR and JAXA, together with CNES, on the Hayabusa2 mission to the asteroid Ryugu, where the MASCOT lander touched down. In the coming years, this successful cooperation will be continued with the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, also led by JAXA, which will visit the Martian moon Phobos. DLR is also participating in the ‘Japanese Demonstration and Experiment of Space Technology for INterplanetary voYage with Phaethon fLyby and dUst Science’ (DESTINY+) mission to the asteroid Phaethon. Germany and Japan are also making intensive use of the ISS to address questions concerning medicine, materials science and fundamental research.

More than three decades of cooperation

DLR and JAXA began their collaboration with the international observation of Comet Halley as early as 1986, followed by the use of the European-built Spacelab and the Japanese-German ‘Experimental Re-entry Space System’ (EXPRESS) in the 1990s. Since then, a long and reliable cooperation has been established between Germany and Japan in the fields of aeronautics and space. DLR now has more than 300 cooperative relationships with Japanese partners from science and industry, and more than 50 signed cooperation agreements. Japan is the most important partner of the German Aerospace Center outside Europe, together with the United States.

Dr. Niklas Reinke
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR)
German Aerospace Center
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Published on: April 14, 2022