Japan’s Latest H3 Rocket Scheduled for February Launch

Japan’s space agency announced that the H3 rocket, designed to replace the current main launch vehicle, is set to launch in mid-February, following a failed attempt last year.

The H3 rocket is the first major update to Japan’s main launch vehicle in two decades and is intended to replace the reliable H2A rocket. However, its development has faced numerous delays despite high expectations for its impact on the competitive satellite launching industry.

The No. 2 H3 rocket is scheduled for liftoff between 9:22 a.m. and 1:06 p.m. on Feb 15 from the Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

If the Feb 15 launch window is missed, the next opportunity will be between Feb 16 and March 31.

The inaugural launch of the No. 1 H3 rocket in March this year ended in failure when its second-stage engine failed to ignite and it received orders to self-destruct shortly after liftoff.

JAXA has identified the causes of the failure, including a short-circuit in the second-stage engine igniter, and has implemented modifications in the No. 2 H3 rocket to prevent a similar incident.

The No. 2 rocket was initially intended to carry the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-4, but will now carry two microsatellites after the first launch attempt failed.

The No. 1 rocket carried the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3, which is believed to have fallen into waters off the Philippines after the failed launch.

With the H3 rocket, Japan aims to limit costs to around 5 billion yen, about half of those associated with the H2A, while increasing satellite launch capacity by 1.3 times.

© KYODO

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