JAXA Develops Next-Generation Successor to H-II Launch Vehicle with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries


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Just recently, Japan has demonstrated its growing power in the global space industry. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has unveiled on July 1, 2015, their next automated HTV (H-II Transfer Vehicle) spacecraft. This vessel will be designed to specialize in cargo transportation to deliver payloads to the International Space Station. This freighter, named Kounotori-5 (HTV-5), is being prepared to resupply the International Space Station on its upcoming launch date of August 16th. Kounotori-5, which in Japanese means “white stork,” is anticipated to lift off from Tanegashima Space Center to dock on the International Space Station on August 22nd.

The HTV-5 has the capabilities of transporting up to 6 metric tons of cargo, measuring in at 33 feet long and 14.4 feet in diameter. In addition to food and water, the HTV-5 will be transporting other equipment, materials, and supplies necessary for the experiments being held on the International Space Station. Prior to the HTV-5, Japan has successfully carried out four previous missions.

“We have successfully launched four previous Kounotori transport vehicles,” said the head of the HTV Technology Center, Kaneaki Narita. “We hope to steadily carry out our mission, relentlessly tackling each task.”

New renovations to the HTV-5 include modification of its solar panels and improved cargo capacity. In its upcoming launch, the HTV-5 will lift off atop an H-IIB rocket. This H-IIB rocket will eventually be superseded by a new launch vehicle, designated the H3. JAXA announced the official naming of this next general launch vehicle currently under development in coordination with the prime contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. The H3 launch vehicle will stand 207 feet tall with a core rocket diameter of 17 feet. In the name “H3,” the ‘H’ symbolizes the successful heritage of the H-IIA/H-IIB Launch Vehicles and the ‘3’ implies JAXA’s innovative challenge.

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