TOKYO >> The Japanese government plans to develop a rocket with reusable parts that would be recovered after launch. It would be the successor to the H3 flagship rocket scheduled to go into operation this fiscal year.
The first launch of a reusable rocket would happen as early as 2030.
Incorporating reusable parts would dramatically reduce development costs and enhance Japan’s competitiveness on the international stage, as the global market for satellites grows.
An outline of the plan was drawn up by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry. The draft sets a goal of conducting a test flight of a scaled-down model in about five years and launching the first rocket about 2030.
Satellites used for observing Earth are in demand, but because of the enormous price tag per rocket launch of the H2A, Japan’s current rocket — about $92 million — it hasn’t attracted much interest commercially for launching overseas satellites.
To avert a prohibitive price tag, launch costs for the H3 rocket will be held to $46 million. For the follow- up to the H3, developers aim to design a rocket with the ability to make a controlled landing, so that parts can be collected and reused.
Japan also aims to launch such a rocket at a cost less than that of the H3, by incorporating parts developed by the private sector.