On September 26 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) concluded an agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) under which the company will begin launch services using H-IIB rockets. Following the successful launch of H-IIB launch vehicle No.3 on July 21 this year, MHI will now handle all H-IIB launches commencing with No.4. Compared with H-IIA rockets, which MHI has been commissioned to launch since 2007, the H-IIB can perform launches of large-size satellites double in weight. Gaining momentum from its ability to accommodate this enhanced cargo capacity, MHI plans to aggressively explore the global market for diverse launch needs, including commercial satellites.
The H-IIB rocket, which was jointly developed by JAXA and MHI, is, along with the H-IIA, one of Japan's primary large-scale launch vehicles. Since its first launch in 2009, the H-IIB has recorded three consecutive successes. While MHI has until now played a central role in the H-IIB's manufacture, going forward the company will handle all manufacturing and launch activities; the only exceptions will be flight data acquisition and range safety management, including ground safety confirmation and flight safety assurance - areas in which JAXA will remain in charge.
The three H-IIB rocket launches to date all served to launch the H-II transfer vehicle (HTV) known as "KOUNOTORI," a cargo transporter to the International Space Station (ISS). The H-IIB has the capacity to launch a satellite, or multiple satellites, up to 8 metric tons in weight into geostationary transfer orbit. This capacity enables the rocket's use for launching today's increasingly larger satellites, including communication satellites, thereby further expanding the company's launch service application range.
In line with Japan's policy calling for independent capability in space development and related activities, MHI seeks to secure the means by which the nation gains access to space through its launch services using the H-IIA and H-IIB rockets. Toward this goal the company will continue to ask the government to use domestic launch vehicles for launching satellites on national missions, to clarify the country's launch schedule for such satellites, and to delineate effective and detailed measures for sustaining Japan's space-related industries.
MHI will also present proposals to overseers of satellite launch projects worldwide. Among potential proposals would be to use one H-IIB rocket to launch multiple satellites, as has been done with the H-IIA, and to export space infrastructure to emerging nations as a package, with satellite launch services at its core. In tandem with these initiatives, MHI intends to strengthen its global competitiveness in this business through continuous cost reduction efforts and quality enhancement activities, in order to secure a substantial number of rocket launches as its way of underpinning the base of space transportation related industries.
Source: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.
Date: Sep 27, 2012