Japan begins testing new rocket engine

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Capitalism in space: Japan has begun testing the rocket engine it will use in its next generation rocket.

The H-III will succeed the country’s current H-series rockets, H-IIA and H-IIB. The rocket will use commercially available components and a fuselage that can be mass produced, lowering launch costs to about half of the current price tag of approximately 10 billion yen ($88.6 million). The new, more powerful engine will allow the H-III to carry a midsize to large satellite weighing up to 6.5 tons — 60% more than the H-IIA.

If I understand this correctly, a launch with this new rocket will cost about $45 million, which will make it very competitive with SpaceX. At the same time, it is not as powerful, which means it will not serve the exact same customer base. Instead, its capacity makes it a direct competitor to India’s GSLV Mark III rocket.



  • LocalFluff

    I think they are talking about GEO orbit, not LEO. H-II launches 4-6 tons to GEO and this H-III will be larger, 8 meters taller. Ariane 5 used to lift 7 tons to GEO but the Ariane 5 ECA version has already put 10.7 tons in GEO now. Seems to me H-III will be in the most common orbital class of launchers today, about 20 tons to LEO.

    That the existing Japanese H-II launcher would cost only $88.6 million to launch is news to me. I’ve heard that it is the most expensive launcher in the world together with Delta IV costing up to $400 million. That’s why they only ever launched Japanese payloads (and an Australian secondary payload once).

  • LocalFluff wrote, “I think they are talking about GEO orbit, not LEO.”

    I think you are correct. My mistake.

  • wayne

    Sounds like this H-III, is capable of carrying 6 independently targeted re-entry vehicle’s.

    “We’re just a battery for hire with a guitar fire,
    Ready and aimed at you.
    Pick up your balls and load up your cannon,
    For a twenty-one gun salute….
    –For those about to rock, we salute you!”

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