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|Function||Medium-lift launch vehicle|
|Manufacturer||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Cost per launch||US$ 50 million (2017)|
|Height||63 m (207 ft)|
|Diameter||5.27 m (17.3 ft)|
|Mass||574,000 kg (1,265,000 lb)(Gross for H3-24L Variant)|
|Payload to GTO|
|6,500 kg (14,300 lb)|
|Launch sites||LA-Y, Tanegashima|
|First flight||FY2020 (planned)|
|No. boosters||0, 2 or 4|
|Thrust||2,158 kN (485,000 lbf)|
|Specific impulse||283.6 seconds (2.781 km/s)|
|Burn time||105 s|
|Engines||2 or 3 LE-9|
|Thrust||1,472 kN (331,000 lbf)|
|Specific impulse||425 seconds (4.17 km/s)|
|Fuel||LOX / LH2|
|Thrust||137 kN (31,000 lbf)|
|Specific impulse||448 seconds (4.39 km/s)|
|Fuel||LOX / LH2|
The H3 Launch Vehicle is an expendable launch system in development in Japan. H3 rockets are liquid-propellant rockets with strap-on solid rocket boosters and are planned to be launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Mitsubishi and the JAXA have been responsible for the design, manufacture, and operation of the H3.
As of July 2015[update], it was planned that the minimum configuration is to carry a payload of up to 4 tonnes into sun-synchronous orbit for about 5 billion yen, and the maximum configuration is to carry more than 6.5 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbit.[need quotation to verify]
The development of H3 was authorized by Japanese government 17 May 2013.[full citation needed] The H3 Launch Vehicle is being developed jointly by JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to launch a wide variety of commercial satellites. H3 was designed with cheaper engines compared to H-IIA, so that manufacturing the new launch vehicle would be more cost-effective, with less risk, in a shorter period of time. JAXA was in charge of preliminary design, readiness of the ground facility, and development of new technologies for the H3, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is responsible for manufacturing.[clarification needed] The main emphasis in design is cost reduction, with planned launch costs for customers are in range of US$50–65 million.[better source needed]
In August 2018, the first tests of the solid rocket boosters were made.
The H3 Launch Vehicle is a two-stage rocket. The first stage uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants and carries zero, two or four strap-on solid rocket boosters (derived from SRB-A3) powered by polybutadiene. The first stage is powered by two or three LE-9 engines which uses expander bleed cycle similar to LE-5B. The second stage is powered by a single engine which is an improved LE-5B.
Each H3 booster configuration has a two-digit and a letter designation that indicates the features of that configuration. The first digit represents the number of LE-9 engines on the main stage, either "2" or "3". The second digit indicates the number of SRB-3 solid rocket boosters attached to the base of the rocket, and can be "0", "2" or "4". All layouts of solid boosters are symmetrical. The letter in the end shows the length of the payload fairing, either short "S" or long "L". For example, an H3-24L has two engines, four solid rocket boosters, and a long fairing, whereas an H3-30S has three engines, no solid rocket boosters, and a short fairing.
A previously mentioned variant, the H3-32, was cancelled in late 2018 when the performance of the H3-22 variant, sporting one less engine on the core booster, was found to be greater than anticipated, putting it close to the H3-32's performance. While the H3-32 would have provided greater performance, JAXA cited SpaceX's experience with their Falcon 9 rocket, which routinely lifted commercial communications satellite payloads to less than the gold-standard geosynchronous transfer orbit of 1500m/s of Delta-V remaining to get to GEO, leaving the satellites themselves to make up the difference. As commercial clients were apparently willing to be flexible, JAXA proposed redefining their reference transfer orbit to something lower, believing commercial clients would prefer the less expensive (if slightly less capable) H3-22 rocket, even if the client had to then load additional propellant onto their satellite for it to reach GEO, than a more expensive H3-32.
H3 will have a "dual-launch capability, but MHI is focused more on dedicated launches" in order to prioritize schedule assurance for customers.
|Date and time (UTC)||Flight||Type||Launch site||Payload(s)||Outcome|
|2020 (TBD)||TF1||H3-30S||LP2, Tanegashima||ALOS-4||Planned|
|2021 (TBD)||TF2||H3-2?||LP2, Tanegashima||ETS-IX||Planned|
H3 is on track for a 2020 debut with a price meant to be on par with SpaceX’s Falcon 9.