The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is still aiming to launch the H3 before March 10. The launch was terminated last week due to a hitch discovered with the two solid rocket boosters that didn’t ignite.
H3 has been collaboratively developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and JAXA. The duo has been working for decades to design, operate and manufacture this rocket. Considered as the world’s first rocket to use an expander bleed cycle for the first stage engine, H3 is designed to be flexible, cost-effective, and bona fide. According to JAXA, the rocket will replace the H-IIA, Japan’s older workhorse. The Japanese government authorised the development of the rocket on May 17, 2013.
The third-generation liquid hydrogen-powered rocket of Japan, H3, comprises two stages, a groupage of possible configurations, and the latest engine. Its design is partly inspired by Japan’s Epsilon rocket and the predecessors of H3, H-IIA, and H-IIB, and it utilises cheaper engines as compared to the H-IIA. As a result, the manufacturing task for the new launch vehicle would be more cost-efficient, faster, and less susceptible to risk.
The development and manufacturing of the liquid-fuel engines and the airframe of the rocket were overseen by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The development and manufacturing of the payload fairings were handled by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. The IHI Corporation, formerly known as Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd., supervised the development and manufacturing of the solid-fuel boosters and the liquid-fuel engine turbopumps.
The Aborted Launch
On the evening of February 16, 2023, a test flight from the Tanegashima Space Center of Japan was hindered, which was planned to send an Earth-observing satellite to the orbit. H3 will attempt to deliver the Advanced Land Observation Satellite-3 (ALOS-3), also called “Daichi-3,” to a sun-synchronous orbit in its first mission. With further upgrades, the rocket can transport cargo to the moon.
Why was the launch aborted?
The space agency of Japan claims that the issue that resulted in the abort of the first launch of this rocket last week has been detected. The launch of the new H3 rocket was aborted on February 16 due to a fault with the electrical system meant for supplying power to the two LE-9 engines, as stated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. These engines fuel the first stage of the rocket. The commands to ignite the solid boosters of the rocket were foreclosed by the control unit that detected the anomaly.
The 3-ton satellite is known as the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3 (ALOS-3), also called DAICHI-3. ALOS-3 has been developed with an improved ground resolution of 0.8 metres and enhanced performance as compared to ALOS, and its observations include the land area globally rather than just being limited within the country.
These observations will be useful for the tasks including disaster monitoring and response by the central and local governments, making ALOS-3 suitable for urgent observations in disaster-prone situations. The product distribution system has also been designed in ALSO-3 to transport images rapidly before and after the disaster. The unique imaging capabilities of ALOS-3 will enhance the monitoring application and global geopolitical information and research of the coastal environment.
Launch Before March 10
The unmutilated condition of the unlaunched rocket, the ground equipment, and the Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS-3/Daichi-3) payload is a sigh of relief for sapce agency of Japan. Masashi Okada, the project manager of H-3, has promulgated to launch the new flagship rocket of the country by March 10, 2023. The country has successfully launched one orbital mission, H-IIA on January 25, 2023, that has delivered the IGS Radar 7 surveillance satellite of Japan to the orbit. The rocket carried a government intelligence gathering satellite and was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, Southwestern Japan.