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Satnews Daily
August 1st, 2016

A Sounding Move By Japan For Smallsat Launches

Take an item already in use for one boosting purpose and then repurpose that technology for nexgen space traffic support... that is exactly what the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is accomplishing, the Nikkei Asian Review is reporting.

The SS-520 sounding rocket.
Photo is courtesy of JAXA.

An existing, space observation, SS-520 sounding rocket is expected to slash launch expenses to a tenth of those for the agency's major vehicles, the HII-A and the Epsilon. JAXA hopes to tap the growing international market for smallsats, which measure in the tens of centimeters and have such applications as crop management, urban planning and communications. Expect this rocket to push smallsats into orbit as early as December of this year, reducing launch costs for the agency.

JAXA's HII-A launch vehicle. Photo courtesy of JAXA.

The IHI Aerospace rocket is 10 meters high and has a diameter of around 50 cm. The launch vehicle will blast off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. Success could provide a new means of launching the smaller satellites. The science ministry is expected to grant safety certification as early as October.

The first payload is expected to be a 3 kg satellite developed by the University of Tokyo that will be placed into an elliptical orbit 200 km above the Earth. The Japanese government seeks to expand the country's space business and plans to strengthen satellite launch operations.


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