Science and Exploration

JAXA Selects Mitsubishi to Build New Flagship Launch Vehicle

By Marc Boucher
March 25, 2014
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JAXA Selects Mitsubishi to Build New Flagship Launch Vehicle
JAXA Selects Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to Build New Flagship Launch Vehicle

JAXA has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to build a new flagship launch vehicle to replace the current H-IIA and H-IIB launch vehicles and intends to compete for international commercial contracts.
The new rocket is expected to come into service in 2020 and JAXA stated that they plan on cutting launch costs by half to try and compete directly with Arianespace, SpaceX and other commercial launch providers.

Last June a representative of Mitsubishi told a broadcaster of the weekly Asia Biz Forecast program that they could not compete against SpaceX on price and that it would be 10 years before they could.

It would seem the Japanese government has decided to back JAXA and Mitsubishi in their efforts to compete globally in the commercial launch market going forward.

The new vehicle would have the following features:

– The main liquid-engine core rockets will be the same specifications for all launch vehicles in the new series so that manufacturing and operation can be more efficiently performed.

– Up to six solid rocket boosters (depending on the needs) can be attached for a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) mission to be able to flexibly cope with diversified needs. GTO missions from 2 to 6.5 tons. SSO missions 3 tons.

“We will apply a more sophisticated high-performance liquid hydrogen rocket engine that has been our specialty field to the first and second-stage engines while cutting its costs and improving its reliability. We will then attach solid rocket boosters that are based on our technology that has been fostered through the development of the Epsilon Launch Vehicle and so on. We can cope with a wide variety of launch needs by varying the number of solid rocket boosters to be attached. The basic structure of the new launch vehicle is similar to that of the H-IIA, but we will achieve two goals, low cost and high reliability, at the same time by introducing cutting-edge technologies in every area. “

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