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Japan successfully launches H3 rocket after repeated failed attempts

Japan’s space agency, that is, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) successfully launched its new flagship rocket, H3, after two failed attempts and more than a two-year delay. Launched from Tanegashima Space Center in South Japan on February 17, 2024, the H3 rocket has come to be considered a competitor to Space X’s Falcon 9


Developed by JAXA in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the H3 rocket is a successor to Japan’s H-IIA and H-IIB rockets and is said to be designed for "high flexibility, high reliability, and high-cost performance" (as per JAXA).


Following its previously failed maiden attempt in March of last year, when the rocket’s second-stage engine had failed to ignite, the successful launch of the H3 rocket has come as a boost to Japan’s position in the modern-day space race. “I’ve been in the space industry for a long time, but I’ve never felt so happy before, and I’ve never felt so relieved,” said Hiroshi Yamakawa (president of JAXA).


This comes as a second win for JAXA, succeeding Japan’s successful launch and landing of an unmanned probe on the moon last month, a moment that was hailed as “a significant achievement for future lunar and planetary exploration.”


The H3 rocket, by adopting automotive-grade electronics and simpler structures, is designed to carry a 6.5 metric ton payload and reduce the per-launch cost to $33 million. This is a significant decrease in comparison to its predecessor H-IIA which costs about double the H3 rocket per launch, that is, about $66 million. Thus, the H3 rocket has the potential to be “the most cost-effective rocket” with JAXA planning to capitalise on these features of the H3 to launch both commercial as well as government missions as often as six times in a year for the coming twenty years.


Being seen as an all-rounder in the field of space technology and space travel, the H3 rocket will be “able to launch satellites into Earth orbit, serve as a supply vehicle for space stations, and go to the Moon" says Alice Gorman, an associate professor at Flinders University. 

Thus, it seems that Japan’s H3 rocket might potentially end up making space more affordable for the people of Earth.



Image Credits: CNN

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