HomeUNISECMessage from ChairpersonMessage from Chairperson(2018)

Harunori NAGATA (Professor at Hokkaido University)


Dear members of UNISEC Japan

     Since the birth of the UNISEC in April 2002 and the acquisition of NPO in February 2003, we have kept on growing and gained many new members, and we have around 70 groups and 1000 students as of the end of 2016. As the number of member grows, our activity is also becoming various; however, I sometimes get a feeling that this is also what is hindering us from keeping the original nature of UNISEC. UNISEC started out as a joint organization of UNISAT (University Satellite Consortium) and Hybrid Rocket Group. UNISIEC should be a place where highly motivated members from universities and colleges compete with and stimulate one another by showing their own projects.

     The Mutual Education Project (MEP), launched in 2015, was designed to make a responsible professor from one organization review the other organization’s project.  Though this was regarded as what UNISEC should be, I feel that it failed to attract attention from some top-class universities.  I am afraid that that UNISEC is losing its function to provide an opportunity of mutual competition and learning together to those who aspire to learn space.

     UNISEC is a group of researchers and engineers who truly aim to reach space. Of course, the door to UNISEC is open to everyone and there are various ways to participate in the UNISEC activity, but non-space activities should be minor.  I would like to emphasize again that UNISEC must be continuously an intriguing place for people who eagerly desire space. Our goal is to reach space, not making friends nor memories.  It is not to develop human resource, nor to learn project management. These are favorable outcomes, but not our goals.

     I feel that we must work for space more seriously, and that those groups and activities far from such seriousness should not be our majority.  I am not saying that those who are satisfied with making CanSat, no intention to move further, or who are accustomed to launching a ready- made commercial rocket with an altitude of less than 1km for many years, should leave UNISEC.  However, if those groups would become a majority of UNISEC, which would, in the result, become unattractive for those of truly aspiring space,  I would have to say that the situation is severe and serious.  We must seriously recognize the fact that several top-class research laboratories with good research records in Japan didn’t participate in MEP of 2015.

     It is difficult to develop a rocket that could reach an altitude of more than 100km. However, when we see some rocket organizations that have been working for over 10 years have not been able to go over the troposphere, nor have not yet develop an engine with such ability, we should ask ourselves that we are working hard enough to reach space.  Yes, aerodynamic and structure of a rocket are important, but we would not call “the Rocketeer” those who have not even designed the thrust chamber of a rocket, I would have to say that they have no place to go beyond that activity.

     I once again emphasize that the UNISEC’s basic philosophy is a consortium for researchers and engineers who seriously aim to reach space.  Each organization should have a detailed and feasible plan to reach space, and their annual activities should be based on that plan.  It may be far from seriousness if we will make access to space some time to come or, may be near to space in a bit.  Of course, there could be some spin-off effects branching from our basic activity, but I think that we should maintain our basic philosophy while allowing these spin-off effects.  I am afraid that UNISEC may be losing its basic philosophy and take this tendency with serious concern.  I sincerely hope that there would be more organizations with serious aspiration for space in UNISEC.  For this purpose, let us consider what we can and should do right now, and we should aim for higher targets.

“Liquid oxygen” – bucket challenge by Prof. Nagata.