JAXA delivers new H3 rockets for research at the Tanegashima Space Center

As it aims to upgrade its aging flagship H-IIA launch vehicle, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is going forward with trials of the latest H3 rocket. The first phase of the H3 5.2-meter-diameter launcher was introduced for pressing at the Tobishima facility of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries situated in Aichi Prefecture on January 24. As a component of the eventual flight arrangements, the core phase is being transported to the Tanegashima Space Center for a set of tests starting in February. Comprehensive device testing and critical qualification tests of LE-9 liquid hydrogen-liquid oxygen engines would be performed at the launch facility, JAXA informed SpaceNews through an email.

For March, when the launcher will be loaded with the cryogenic propellant, the wet dress rehearsal is scheduled, simulating the job leading up to a deployment. JAXA will then perform different tests per an acceptable timetable before delivery. After coordination with the construction status of onboard satellite and associated organizations, JAXA claims the deployment date of the very first H3 will be “planned.” JAXA revealed last fall that H3 had slipped from Japanese Financial Year 2020 to the Year 2021, the latter starting on 1 April 2021. The slowdown is due to issues found with the combustion chamber as well as the turbopump of the new LE-9 engine.

JAXA has been working on LE-9 registration in the combustion chamber as well as turbopump blades, having identified fatigue fracturing surfaces. ” As in the previous process in Tanegashima as well as Kakuda over the last year, we have carried out technological data collection tests and turbopump blade vibration checks. We’ll continue this endeavor,” said JAXA. H3 is expected to completely substitute after 2023, the older, effective H-IIA rocket. It is noted that it is built for high versatility, high consistency, and high-performance costs.

Four H3 configurations, each with two or even three LE-9 engines as well as optional solid side boosters, should be feasible. The highest configuration, 63 meters long and 574 tonnes can carry over 7,900 kg to the geosynchronous transfer orbit. For the lunar missions, improved versions will be implemented in the future. “For H3 rocket, for the minimal configuration form, we are targeting a price of around 5 billion yen ($48.2 million),” JAXA agrees. 

The lowest configuration corresponds to the H3-30 type at the standard operation stage, without any of the SRB-3 solid rocket boosters. “This is approximately half the cost of the existing H-IIA missile.” With H3, a cosmetic update arrives, removing the “NIPPON” shown on the edge of the original H-II rockets. Improving international competition is one of the aims of designing the H3 rocket. “From the viewpoint of international appeal, we embraced the notation “JAPAN, ” JAXA stated.

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