Japan’s beginning shift to commercial space

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Link here. The article provides a good sense of the state of Japan’s private space industry, which at this moment is generally restricted one company, Interstellar Technologies, and its as yet unsuccessful effort to launch a suborbital rocket. The following quote however helps explain why Japan has been unable to interest anyone in buying its H-2A rocket for commercial launches.

Launch costs associated with Japan’s main H-2A rocket are about ¥10 billion per launch (about $90 million), so miniature satellites often ride together with bigger satellites. A period of 50 days is required between launches, meaning the number of launches is low in Japan compared to countries including the United States, Europe, Russia, China and India. Large satellites are given priority in the launch schedule, so it is often difficult to choose a launch window for miniature satellites. [emphasis mine]

I think the $90 million price is a significant reduction from what JAXA used to charge. Fifty days to prep for launch however is ungodly slow.



  • Tom Billings

    IIRC, the time between launches is a *political* requirement. Tanegashima island has a large fishing industry, with fishermen *certain* in their minds that a large rocket being launched scares away the fish. So, in 1969, the government in Tokyo made a deal, that would limit the number of launches to something the fishermen would only grumble about instead of riot over. 50 days may be what people believe, with or without foundation, enough time for the fish to forget the last big noise.

    IMHO, a better place for launching would be Iwo Jima. It was returned to Japan in 1968. It has no civilian population today, but is maintained as a JSDF/USN airbase. Remarkably, a few airstrips are still unused. They could serve a private launch company. Whether the Tokyo government will allow private groups that much freedom is an open question in a hierarchical society such as Japan’s.

    Admittedly, Iwo Jima is substantially farther from Japan than is Tanegashima, so that would increase costs a bit. Still, anything close will have many of the same political restrictions that Tanegashima has.

  • Tom Billings: Thank you for reminding me of this. I had completely forgotten about the fishermen protests that forced these rules on JAXA.

  • wodun

    Fish certainly are sensitive to noise but who knows how launches affect their behavior?

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