IHI Aerospace Receives First Commercial Launch Order for 2 iQPS Commercial Earth Observation Satellites on Epsilon

Epsilon launch (Credit: JAXA webcast)

TOKYO (IHI Aerospace PR) — IHI Aerospace Co., Ltd (hereinafter ‘IA’) received order for launching the small SAR satellites owned by Institute for Q-Shu Pioneers of Space, Inc. (hereinafter ‘iQPS’). IA and iQPS signed the contract for launch service of QPS-SAR-3 and QPS-SAR-4 on April 18, 2022.

QPS-SAR-3 and QPS-SAR-4 are under manufacturing by iQPS with more than 25 partner companies in northern Kyushu and other parts of Japan. Two satellites will be launched by Epsilon flight #6 in Japanese FY 2022 from Uchinoura Space Center in Kyushu. This is first commercial launch order for IA.

QPS-SAR-3 and QPS-SAR-4 will be launched by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (hereinafter ‘JAXA’) on Epsilon Flight #6. IA will provide the satellite launch service with ‘Epsilon S Launch Vehicle (hereinafter ‘Epsilon S’)’ which is currently under development with JAXA. Following this commercial satellite launch order from iQPS, IA will accelerate its launch service for not only governmental / civil satellite launch mission, but also commercial satellite launch mission by Epsilon S. 

IA will contribute to solve social issues faced by various stakeholders in the public and private sectors, such as disaster response and business purposes. 

SAR Satellite

A remote sensing satellite that observes the earth’s surface by Synthetic Aperture Rader (SAR) regardless of weather conditions, day, or night. SAR satellite aims electromagnetic waves to the earth’s surface, receives and analyzes the bounced back electromagnetic waves, and visualizes the status of the earth’s surface. 

Credit: IQPS

 QPS-SAR-3 and QPS-SAR-4 Overview

iQPS has developed a large deployable antenna (patented) that is easy to store and weighs only 10kg. Its antenna enables the satellite to emit strong radio waves, and through this development, iQPS has succeeded in developing a high-resolution small SAR satellite, QPS-SAR, which is 1/20th the mass and 1/100th the cost of conventional SAR satellites. Currently, QPS-SAR-1 (Izanagi) and QPS-SAR-2 (Izanami) are under operation. In May 2021, Izanami succeeded in acquiring image with a resolution of 70cm which is the highest resolution ever achieved by a commercial small SAR satellite in Japan.

QPS-SAR-3 and QPS-SAR-4 has made the following further improvement from QPS-SAR-2. 

  • By adding solar panels and batteries to increase the amount of power available, the satellite will be able to acquire more and higher resolution observation data. 
  • The onboard “On-orbit Imager,” jointly developed by JAXA and Alouette Technology Inc. is expected to enable SAR observation data to be processed within the on-orbit satellite, significantly compressing the amount of downlink from the satellite and meeting the needs for highly responsive observations. Details: https://global.jaxa.jp/press/2020/02/20200226-1_e.html 
  • The satellite will be equipped with a thruster for orbit control in order to build a 36-satellite constellation from the 3rd satellite onward. It is also expected to respond to interference analysis  needs. Interferometric analysis means measuring the displacement of the ground surface (how much the ground has moved) by taking the difference of data observed from the same location at different times. 

iQPS Inc. CEO, Shunsuke Onishi

“We are highly honored to collaborate with IHI AEROSPACE on their first commercial launch opportunity. Also, we would like to thank all those who supported us to conclude the contract. QPS-SAR-3 and QPS-SAR-4 are two important satellites that will be the start of building the satellite constellation we are aiming for. We are currently in the final phase of these two satellites production, and our engineers and our partners are working daily together to complete the satellite. We are looking forward the day when these two satellites will be launched into space.

“Currently, the number of small satellite operators is increasing every year around the world and there is an urgent need to secure a means of transporting satellites into space. We commit to contributing to the development of Japanese space industry through this launch of domestically produced commercial satellites by Epsilon, domestically produced launch vehicle.”

IHI AEROSPACE Co., Ltd. President, Fumiharu Namiki

“On April 18, 2022, we signed the Satellite Launch Service Agreement for QPS-SAR-3 and QPS-SAR-4 with iQPS. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all parties involved for the contract. We are honored that Epsilon has been selected by iQPS which is planning to provide earth observation data service using the small SAR satellite constellation. Under this contract, Epsilon Flight #6 will launch QPS-SAR-3 and QPS-SAR-4 together with ‘Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-3’ satellites which are developing by JAXA.

“Our mission is to contribute to solving social issues through space transportation system, and this project is our first step to achieve the mission. We are looking forward to satisfying iQPS and build a long-term relationship with them, as well as to expanding our launch services by Epsilon in the future.”

Epsilon Launch Service: https://www.ihi.co.jp/ia/en/products/space/epsilon/