The new company is led by President Shinichiro Ota, a former industry ministry bureaucrat and once the head of the Japan Patent Office. NGSRDP will initially be based at Canon Electronics’ headquarters, studying technologies and costs with the hope of starting commercial operations as early as this year.
The joint venture has set a price point of 1 billion yen ($9.1 million) or less per launch — an amount seen as competitive against overseas rivals. At present, plans call for a rocket smaller than the Epsilon rocket currently under development by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, but larger than JAXA’s SS-520 minirocket.
The four companies had been discussing formation of a small rocket company for about three years. President Ota has said that the “time is ripe” for the joint venture. IHI Aerospace has played a key role in the development of Epsilon, while Canon Electronics has been involved in the SS-520 project.
I would say that this is a clear sign that the competition in the smallsat rocket industry is definitely heating up.
Note that the name of this new joint venture, New Generation Small Rocket Development Planning (NGSRDP), is quite horrible. I hope they come up with something better soon for marketing purposes.