On March 25 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) was selected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to serve as prime contractor in charge of the development and manufacture of, and provider of launch services for, a new flagship launch vehicle. The new vehicle is to be based on the current H-IIA and H-IIB rockets, with plans calling for space transportation services using the new launch vehicle to begin after 2020. Following its selection as prime contractor, MHI intends to commence the new launch vehicle's development in the fiscal year starting in April, aiming for a maiden test launch in 2020.
JAXA issued an open call for applications to become prime contractor following the Japanese Government's decision in June 2013 to develop a new flagship launch vehicle. The aim of the project is to develop a new vehicle that will be internationally competitive, incorporating a wealth of the latest technologies and simultaneously achieving supreme reliability and a low-cost structure, for full-scale entry into the market for satellite launch services.
The development project targets the achievement of enhanced efficiency in manufacturing and operation by creating a full series of liquid-engine core rockets all equipped with engines fueled by liquid hydrogen, an area in which Japan has an abundant track record. Development will also aim for the introduction of solid rockets to serve as auxiliary boosters, enabling a rocket that can flexibly accommodate a wide variety of launch needs by adjusting the number of boosters. MHI will take full charge of all aspects of the new flagship launch vehicle's development, manufacture and launch services, working in cooperation with JAXA and other private enterprises.
MHI has consistently played a major role in the development of Japan's flagship launch vehicles. Following transfer of technology from JAXA, the company has overseen all aspects from vehicle manufacture to satellite launch commencing with the H-IIA No.13 and H-IIB No.4 launch vehicles (respectively launched in September 2007 and August 2013). Now, the selection of MHI to serve as prime contractor in charge of the development of, and provider of space transportation services for, a flagship launch vehicle for a new era is extremely significant for the maintenance and further development of the company’s technology base in this field, marking the start toward a new phase.
Leveraging its selection as prime contractor on the new national project, going forward MHI aims to play an even larger role in the establishment of the industrial base to support Japan's autonomous space activities, and to further enhance its presence in the satellite launch services market worldwide.
Source: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
Date: Mar 26, 2014