Japan's latest H3 rocket launch attempt fails, state-of-the-art DAICHI-3 satellite lost

March 7, 2023  13:33

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) new H3 rocket, which launched from Tanegashima Space Center on Monday, failed on its first flight. At 5 minutes and 27 seconds after launch, the command was given to separate the first stage and fire the second. But no ignition occurred in response to the command, and the second stage was not fired.

The self-destruct command was given immediately after because, as reported by JAXA, it was not possible to complete the mission, according to Space.com.

The rocket was supposed to launch the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3 (ALOS-3), also known as DAICHI-3. It was designed to launch into a sun-synchronous orbit and take images with a resolution of up to 0.8 m.

The H3 rocket is designed to carry a payload of 4 tons or more to a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 km and a payload of 6.5 tons or more to a geostationary orbit. JAXA developed it in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for nearly a decade, and numerous technical problems had already delayed the first launch.  

The discontinued version of this rocket (H3-22) has two solid-propellant side boosters, but these can be increased to four to increase payload capacity. In addition, only two LE-9 engines were used for this rocket, although one variant of the rocket enables the use of three.

The new model is designed to replace the currently operational H-IIA rocket, whose last flight should take place in 2024.

The H3-22 rocket of the new model should be more "flexible," reliable, and cheaper than its predecessor. However, it already has a strong competitor in the international market: the reusable Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX.

According to industry experts, the termination of Russian cooperation with some countries in the aerospace sector and the lack of effective competitors in Europe open up great opportunities for JAXA. It is known that in May 2022, Japan had already decided to actively develop its aerospace program. 

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