The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), also known with the nickname Kibo (きぼう Kibō?, Hope), is a Japanese science module for the International Space Station (ISS) developed by JAXA. It is the largest single ISS module. The first two pieces of the module were launched on space shuttle missions STS-123 and STS-124. The third and final components were launched on STS-127.[1]


Kibō consists of six major elements: 1) Pressurized Module (PM), 2) Exposed Facility (EF), 3) Experiment Logistics Module-Pressurized Section (ELM-PS), 4) Experiment Logistics Module-Exposed Section (ELM-ES), 5) Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS), and 6) Inter-orbit Communication System (ICS).[2]

Pressurized Module

The Pressurized Module (PM) is the core component connected to the port hatch of the Node 2 Module. It is a cylindrical shape and contains twenty-three International Standard Payload Racks (ISPRs), ten of which are dedicated to science experiments while the remaining 13 are dedicated to Kibo’s systems and storage.[3] The racks will be placed 6-6-6-5 among the four walls of the module. The end of the JEM-PM has an airlock and two window hatches. The three components: Exposed Facility, Experiment Logisitics Module and the Remote manipulator all connect to the pressurized module. Kibo is also the location for many of the press conferences that take place on board.

Exposed Facility

The Exposed Facility (EF), also known as "Terrace", is located outside the port cone of the PM (which is equipped with an airlocked hatch). The EF has 12 EFU (Exposed Facility Unit) Ports that attach to PIU (Payload Interface Unit) Connectors on EF-EEUs (EF-Equipment Exchange Units). All experiment payloads are fully exposed to the space environment. For proper functioning of these experiments, the payload requires an ORU (Orbital Replacement Unit) which consists of the EPS (Electrical Power System), CT (Communications & Tracking) and the TCS (Thermal Control System). Of the 12 ORUs, 8 are replaceable by the JEMRMS while the other 4 are EVA replaceable.

Experiment Logistics Module

The Experiment Logistics Module (ELM), is now on orbit and includes two sections:

  • The Japanese Experiment Logistics Module, Pressurized Section (ELM-PS) –- also called the JLP –- is a pressurized addition to the PM. The module is a storage facility that provides storage space for experiment payloads, samples and spare items.[4]
  • The unpressurized (external) section (ELM-ES) will serve the EF. It is intended as a storage and transportation module.

Remote Manipulator System

The Remote Manipulator System (JEMRMS) is a robotic arm, mounted at the port cone of the PM, intended to service the EF and to move equipment from and to ELM. The RMS control console was launched in the ELM-PS. The main arm was launched with the PM. The "Small Fine Arm", which attaches to the end effector of the main arm, was launched aboard HTV-1.[5]

Launch sequence

Technicians work on the Remote Manipulator System in the Kennedy Space Center in America.(left) EF and ELM-ES arrive at KSC.(right)

NASA launched the JEM complex over three flights, using the NASA Space Shuttle. The NASA Shuttle has a large cargo bay which carried modules into orbit along with crew. This is in contrast to the Russian modules which are launched into orbit on multistage Proton rockets and find their own way to the station complex and attach themselves. On 12 March 2007 the Experiment Logistics Module Pressurized Section (ELM-PS), the main laboratory, arrived in Kennedy Space Center (KSC) from Japan.[6] It was stored in the Space Station Processing Facility until launched into orbit aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour as part of the STS-123 mission.[7]

At first the ELM-PS, the small cargo bay, was connected to a temporary location into Harmony Module (Node 2) and later, on 6 June 2008, was moved to its final destination, or berthing location, on top (zenith) of the main laboratory. On 30 May 2003 the Pressurized Module (PM) arrived in KSC from Japan.[8] It was stored in the Space Station Processing Facility until launched into orbit aboard Space Shuttle Discovery as part of the STS-124 mission.[9] On 3 June 2008 the PM was connected to the Harmony Module. The EF and ELM-ES arrived at KSC on 24 September 2008.[10] The Exposed Facility (EF) and ELM-ES were launched on STS-127, on 15 July 2009.[11] The ELM-ES was brought back to Earth at the end of the mission. The assembly of the EF was completed during the fifth spacewalk.[12]


JEM PM (left) and JEM ELM modules in assembly.

Kibō is the largest single ISS module.

  • Pressurized Module[13]
    • Length: 11.19 m (36.7 ft)
    • Diameter: 4.39 m (14.4 ft)
    • Mass: 14,800 kg (32,600 lb)
  • Experiment Logistics Module[14]
    • Length: 4.21 m (13.8 ft)
    • Diameter: 4.39 m (14.4 ft)
    • Mass: 8,386 kg (18,488 lb)

Current external experiments on Kibo

  • MAXI X-ray astronomy from 0.5 to 30 keV[15]
  • SMILES observes and monitors very weak sub-millimeter wave emission lines of trace gas molecules in the stratosphere[16]
  • SEDA-AP (Space Environment Data Acquisition equipment-Attached Payload) measures neutrons, plasma, heavy ions, and high-energy light particles in ISS orbit.
  • HREP (Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) & Remote Atmospheric & Ionospheric Detection System (RAIDS) Experimental Payload)

Planned external experiments on Kibo

Current internal experiments on Kibo


  • RYUTAI Rack Fluid Physics Experiment Facility (FPEF), Solution Crystallization Observation Facility (SCOF), Protein Crystallization Research Facility (PCRF), Image Processing Unit (IPU)
  • SAIBO Rack Cell Biology Experiment Facility (CBEF), Clean Bench (CB)
  • KOBAIRO Rack Gradient Heating Furnace (GHF)
  • MPSR Multi-Purpose Small payload Rack


  • EXPRESS Rack 4 Biotechnology Specimen Temperature Controller (BSTC), Gas Supply Module (GSM), Space Acceleration Measurement System-II (SAMS-II), Biotechnology Specimen Temperature Controller (BSTC)
  • EXPRESS Rack 5
  • MELFI-1

Planned internal experiments on Kibo


See also

  • Scientific research on the ISS
  • Starry sky overlooking Kibo's Exposed Facility and RMS


External links

  • ISS facilitie catalog
  • Expedition 21/22 Press Kit (PDF)
  • The Future of Hope - Kibo Prologue to the Future - STS-127 2J/A Mission on JAXA Channel
  • ISS at JAXA site
  • KIBO at JAXA site
  • KIBO Handbook (JAXA)
  • Koichi Wakata looks at Earth