How JAXA does PR

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yesterday Japan successfully launched its second transfer vehicle, known as the Kounotori 2. Similar to the Automated Transfer Vehicle the ESA sends to the ISS from time to time, the role these vehicles play is quite simple: launch with a bunch of cargo, dock with the ISS, the astronauts on board then take the cargo in and eventually fill the now-empty vehicle up with waste, and a few months later they seal it off and deorbit it, and all the garbage burns up in the atmosphere and thus the mission ends.

Pretty boring, right? Not when JAXA is in charge. Take a look at their most recent video uploaded today promoting Kounotori 2, and prepare to get excited about a cargo in - garbage out unmanned mission. Select 720px to make it even better. I would have reuploaded the video with subtitles but I don't believe JAXA allows that so I've written the translation below.

0:02 - This...
0:05 - is the story of a spaceship...
0:10 - ...given the name The White Stork.
0:14 - KOUNOTORI (Japanese for stork) 2 H-II Transfer Vehicle MISSION
0:19 - (bottom corner) Space station supply vehicle Kounotori 2
0:23 - The mission it has been entrusted with: to deliver.
0:39 - Soar into infinite space, find your way to him (lit. to that person).
0:45 - Kounotori (HTV) control room
0:47 - International Space Station

This is par for the course for JAXA, and their YouTube account has a number of English videos as well for their more prominent missions.

So what does one of their videos look like for a mission that is exciting in and of itself? This video of the Earthrise video as taken by the Kaguya mission should answer that. Lyrics to the song are below. The song, Furusato (Home), is quite famous so no need to make a new English translation, though I have added transliteration to the right of the original lyrics. The song was originally written about one's home town, but when looking back on the Earth from lunar orbit one realizes that in fact the entire planet is our home (cue Carl Sagan quote).

うさぎ追いし かの山 Usagi oishi kano yama
小ぶなつりし かの川 Kobuna tsurishi kano kawa
夢はいまも めぐりて Yume wa ima mo megurite
忘れがたき ふるさと Wasuregataki furusato

I hunted rabbits on that mountain.
I fished for minnows in that stream.
I still dream about those days I spent when a child.
How I miss and long for my old country home.

いかにいます 父 母 Ikani imasu chichi haha
つつがなしや 友がき Tsutsuganashi ya tomogaki
雨に風に つけても Ame ni kaze ni tsuketemo
思いいずる ふるさと Omoiizuru furusato

Mother and father―are they doing well?
Is everything all right with my old friends?

When the rain falls, when the wind blows, I recall
My happy childhood and my old country home.

こころざしを はたして Kokorozashi wo hatashite
いつの日にか 帰らん Itsuno hi ni ka kaeran
山はあおき ふるさと Yama wa aoki furusato
水は清き ふるさと Mizu wa kiyoki furusato

Some day when I have done what I set out to do,
I will return to where I used to have my home.
Lush and green are the mountains of my homeland.
Pure and clear is the water of my old country home.

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