SC telecon 02-11-2021

Present: Masashi, Paolo, Ludo, Erminia, Thierry, Enrique, Eiichiro, Francesco, Jon, Pete, Hans Kristian, Gao, Matthieu

Special telecon with Masashi who wanted to clarify the ongoing situation with JAXA to the SC

Masashi: evolving political situation with JAXA. Wants to explain as it may easily be misunderstood. Issue started about two weeks ago. A JAXA sub-committee for space missions complained with ISAS/JAXA about the lack of a budget request for LB. They suggested we should consider withdrawing LB if such a request is not placed. They want (in roughly 10 days) a credible plan presented to launch the mission within nominal schedule, i.e. by Japanese FY 2028 (ends February 2029). This has to be understood as a highly political deadline. We know it is untenable: injecting some delay is possible, but too much delay will be dangerous. Here comes the detector issue. Plan is to show a plan with US detectors. For MFT, plan includes Berkeley which has now an agreement with KEK. From JAXA point of view is really KEK who does the detectors. For HFT, situation is unclear. We do not have credible plan yet.

Ludo: when we submit funding request to MEXT, an answer will come (in about a year from now). The schedule might then be revised. By how much: Masashi: do not have a clear answer. A year delay is possible is presented as forced by external triggers. But the subcommittee might have something to say. ISAS mgt thinks that after budget is accepted the adherence to the schedule will be more loose. Many things may happen. In any case, three years could be hard. Masashi’s target is to launch by FY 2029 (ends Feb 2030). Obtaining more is questionable.

Eiichiro: if budget is turned down, does this mean automatic delay? Masashi: Usually, yes. Indeed, this is a good argument to present a budget request in 2022, since they are often turned down. If we present this too late and it is turned down, this my mean a delay difficult to cope with.

Francesco: how should we behave in Europe for the detector plans? Masashi: For MFT, space qualification will be under JAXA’s umbrella. For HFT, if ESA buys detector they could be in charge of space qualification. Masaski in contact with Fabio.

Masashi: for MFT, necessity to save LB imposes that we consider US solution (via KEKE/QUP). This allows technology transfer by, e.g., scientists in Europe visiting US. For HFT, we do not have a solution. Urgent solution needed for HFT only.

Masashi: no need to stop the detector studies in Europe for both HFT and MFT. By October next year CNES will complete Phase A and show a procurement plan. An agreement should be sought by then. Francesco: will be hard to convince ESA to finance the studies with the present boundary conditions.

Pete/Erminia make clear that for UK/NL study effective delay is two years (as supported by Thierry), not three years. Paolo: does this change anything for the subcommittee? Masashi: two years is still too much.

What can the SC do to support the situation? Masashi: we want to have ESA in the mission. SC can be beneficial to that.

A/I on Ludo to distribute CNES briefing of SPC.

Paolo: SC willing to talk to Masashi again. Masashi: sure. Next IGB will be dominated by Astro 2020 outcome. In any case, IGB not suitable for brainstorming. Paolo: if urgent we can meet before the Nov 9 meeting. Otherwise after it, i.e. Nov 16. We should consider having another meeting with Masashi by then.