JAXA Outlines Plans for H3 Launch Vehicle

Artist's conception of H3 rocket. (Credit: JAXA)
Artist’s conception of H3 rocket. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The H3 Launch Vehicle is a liquid propellant launch vehicle currently under development. This is the first full-scale development of the 21st century. The aim of this development is to respond to launch demands from global customers. Based on our operation experience and the reliability of launch vehicles, we will further improve the payload launch capability and reduce the launch price to triumph among international competition in the commercial launch market. We are developing the H3 with the goal of a maiden launch in Japan Fiscal Year 2020 as a mainstay launch vehicle.

Changing the number of solid rocket boosters on the H3 depending on payload mass. (Credit: JAXA)
Changing the number of solid rocket boosters on the H3 depending on payload mass. (Credit: JAXA)

Aim of the H3

Our aim of the H3 is to have a launch vehicle that launches a payload “quicker” and “easier” with “high reliability” while securing flexibility to answer the voices of customers. We have set a target for launch capability and price while focusing on the flexibility of launch services to cope with worldwide payload launch needs.
Flexible launch service

The Upgraded H-IIA Launch Vehicle was designed to launch up to a 4.9-ton payload in orbit (geostationary transfer orbit). The launch capacity of the H3 will increase to 6.5 tons or more to steadily respond to launch demand for a geostationary satellites, which are getting bigger and heavier. In addition, we can flexibly deal with payload weight and orbit by offering choices for the number of solid rocket boosters of zero, two, or four.

Shorten launch preparation time

We are also responding to the voices of customers to “swiftly launch” their payloads by shortening the launch service period after receiving their launch orders and by increasing the number of launch opportunities per year. More specifically, we will reduce the preparation period at the launch site by half from that for the H-IIA Launch Vehicle. The preparation tasks includes launch vehicle assembly and payload encapsulation in the launch vehicle.

Target operation concept for the H3. (Credit: JAXA)
Target operation concept for the H3. (Credit: JAXA)

Lower price

We will decrease our launch service price through the introduction of components that are excellent in quality and available in other domestic industries such as automobile industry instead of components specialized only for space use, and also through changing their production method from current build-to-order manufacturing to something similar to flow line manufacturing seen in general industrial productions. We are targeting a launch price of about five billion yen for a light-weighed version of the H3 without a solid rocket booster (mainly for launches to lower orbits).

High reliability

Japanese rocket engine development. (Credit: JAXA)
Japanese rocket engine development. (Credit: JAXA)

An engine is one of the most difficult parts to develop and manufacture, hence it significantly influences on the reliability and cost of a launch vehicle. Japan has been focusing on the development of the liquid hydrogen engine to reach the equivalent technological level to that of European and American counterparts. For the H3, we are developing the new first-stage engine “LE-9” by making active use of g the numerical simulation. Furthermore, we will boost the reliability by simplifying the engine structual configuration.

JAXA is striving to develop the H3 Launch Vehicle to create a launch vehicle that is more easily accessible with reliability, that will support future space use, and that people in the world want to use, by compiling all the data and experience of our launch vehicle technology we have accumulated to date.