Lab for the International Space Station...

JEM – the Japanese Experimental Module

Satellites     Rockets     Surveying the Moon     Exploring Planets

Artist's concept of how the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) laboratory will look when attached to the International Space Station (ISS)
JEM attached to the space station
Click image to clarify and enlarge artist concept
Japan has built the Japanese Experimental Module (JEM) to be attached permanently to the International Space Station. It includes a pressurized module named Kibo, which means Hope.

JEM is a package of three enclosed modules and an exposed platform to be attached to the station outside truss for space environment experiments. JEM includes a robotic manipulator system and two logistics modules.
  • One module is a pressurized laboratory
  • Two of the components are logistics modules
  • The exposed facility will allow experiments to be carried out in a place open to the space environment
The JEM components will be assembled in space over the course of three shuttle missions, probably in 2004-2005.

Four astronauts at a time – from Japan, Europe, Canada, Russia and the United States – will be able to process materials and do life sciences research in the pressurized JEM laboratory. Materials will be ferried between the station and Earth in one of the logistics modules. The other logistics module will store specimens, gases and consumables.

The National Space Development Agency of Japan developed the JEM/Kibo/Hope laboratory at the Tsukuba Space Center near Tokyo. An ocean cargo ship departed Yokohama Harbor in Japan on May 2, 2003, carrying Kibo, and arrived at Cape Canaveral on June 4, 2003.

The Japanese laboratory elements are awaiting launch at the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.    NASDA KIBO INFO »

International Space Station JEM will join a complex of five other international laboratories aboard the International Space Station, a project involving contributions from 16 nations.

Along with the Japanese National Space Development Agency (NASDA), major partners in the ISS are the United States (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA), Russia (RSA), and Canada (CSA). The station is the largest and most complex international scientific project ever undertaken.

Assembly in orbit of the space station began in1998 when the Russians launched a component known as Zarya, the first piece of the space station to be placed in orbit. The construction project will include 45 flights by U.S. space shuttles and two kinds of Russian rockets over five years. When complete, the ISS will have a mass of more than one million pounds and provide six state-of-the-art laboratories for international research.

Previous Experience. The National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) participated with five other nations in a space laboratory project as far back as 1992 when U.S. space shuttle Discovery, flight STS-42, carried a Spacelab module outfitted as International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-1).

Experiments included studies of the effects of very low gravity in space near Earth on material processes and living organisms.

With NASA and NASDA in the seven-day project 163 nautical miles above Earth were the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES), and the West German Research and Development Institute for Air and Spacecraft (DLR). German and Canadian astronauts were on the flight, but not a Japanese astronaut.

What is Spacelab? Spacelab is a removeable pressurized science lab carried to space and back in a shuttle's cargo bay. Astronauts float through a tube from the shuttle crew quarters into Spacelab. They have carried materials such as plants and animals, as well as protein, vapor and mercury iodide crystals for growth experiments. During much of the IML-1 flight, Discovery orbited with its tail pointing down toward Earth in the so-called gravity gradient position which offered the least gravity during flight.

Spacelab-J Later in 1992, NASA's shuttle Endeavour flight STS-47 carried Spacelab-J, a joint science research project of NASA and the Japanese National Space Development Agency (NASDA). Astronauts floated through a tube between Endeavour and Spacelab.

On that flight, payload specialist Mamoru Mohri became the second native of Japan in orbit and the first Japanese to fly in a U.S. spacecraft. Previously, in 1990, Japanese cosmoreporter Toyohiro Akiyama had flown aboard the USSR's Soyuz flight TM-11 to Russia's Mir station.

Also aboard STS-47 were the first married couple to travel together in space -- payload commander Mark C. Lee and mission specialist N. Jan Davis -- and the first black woman in orbit -- mission specialist Mae C. Jemison.

Another Microgravity Lab. NASDA participated with five other nations in a space lab project again in 1994 when U.S. space shuttle Columbia, flight STS-65, carried a Spacelab module outfitted again as International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2).

Aboard flight STS-65 was payload specialist Chiaki Naito-Mukai. She is a cardiovascular surgeon (M.D.) and also has a Ph.D. degree. Mukai was:
  • the third native of Japan to fly in space
  • the first Japanese female to fly in space
  • the second Japanese to fly in a U.S. spacecraft
Dr. Mukai and the other STS-65 astronauts carried out 82 investigations of space life science, including human physiology, space biology, radiation biology, and bioprocessing, and microgravity science, including material science, fluid science and sesearch on the microgravity environment and sountermeasures.

Experiments included studies of the effects of very low gravity in space near Earth on material processes and living organisms. IML-2 was an extended-duration-in-orbit mission focusing on medical experiments related to the cardiovascular system, autonomic nerve system, and bone and muscle metabolism.

During her flight, Dr. Mukai discussed life in space with children down on Earth during a television interview with the Nickelodeon cable channel.

With NASA and NASDA in the fifteen-day project 160 nautical miles above Earth were the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES), and the West German Research and Development Institute for Air and Spacecraft (DLR).

Robot Arm In 1997, NASA's shuttle Discovery flight STS-85 carried the Manipulator Flight Demonstration (MFD) experiment for NASDA.

MFD consisted of three separate experiments located on a support truss in the shuttle's payload bay. The primary objective was to demonstrate the newly-designed dexterous robot arm in space before installing the arm on the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) of the International Space Station.

John Glenn In 1998, NASA's shuttle Discovery flight STS-95 carried a pressurized Spacehab module where science experiments were conducted.

That flight carried payload specialist Chiaki Mukai for NASDA as well as U.S. Senator John Glenn on his second trip to space.

What is Spacehab? The Spacehab module flown on STS-95 was provided by Spacehab Inc. a private company which provides single or double module Spacehabs for NASA space flights. The Spacehab system provides additional pressurized workspace for experiments, cargo and crew activities. Spacehab modules have supported various space shuttle science missions along with several shuttle missions to the Russian space station Mir.

For STS-95 a single-module Spacehab was carried in the forward portion of Discovery's payload bay. Chiaki Mukai and the other crew members gained access to the module through an airlock tunnel system.

A variety of experiments sponsored by NASA and NASDA, as well as the European Space Agency (ESA), focused on life sciences, microgravity sciences and advanced technology.