Japanese space agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in collaboration with West Japan Railway Company (JR-West), has initiated the use of artificial intelligence technology to predict equipment failures in spacecraft.

The partnership aims to leverage JAXA’s expertise in satellite management and telemetric data with JR-West’s data analysis and development technologies, as well as its experience in servicing railway equipment. This initiative was announced in a statement released on May 23.

JR-West, a prominent operator of railways and high-speed trains in Japan, had previously collaborated with JAXA to establish a framework for assessing the technical condition of spacecraft. The joint project aims to explore predictive maintenance technologies similar to those used in diagnosing train systems.

Additionally, Sky Perfect JSAT, a key player in the project with over 30 geostationary satellites, will focus on enhancing commercial satellite operations and developing AI models to analyze telemetry data for early anomaly detection and resolution in orbit.

JAXA acknowledged challenges in visualizing the impact of external factors using conventional methods. The aggregation of extensive telemetric data enabled the creation of effective AI models to address this issue.

While the integration of AI in space applications is not new, companies like Leolabs and Neuraspace utilize AI algorithms and machine learning to provide collision warnings and identify satellite proximity risks for customers, respectively.

Despite the prevalence of space debris in orbit causing significant losses for insurers in 2023, AI technology serves various critical functions. For instance, NASA and IBM collaborated to develop an AI model for detecting extreme weather conditions, in addition to utilizing autonomous AI-based navigation systems for spacecraft docking with space stations.

Last week, NASA appointed its first-ever director of artificial intelligence, highlighting the agency’s long-standing use of AI across multiple research projects. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson emphasized the importance of dedicated support for AI initiatives to enhance the agency’s capabilities.

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.