Epsilon Receives Excellence Awards

JAXA's Epsilon rocket on its first test flight. (Credit: JAXA)
JAXA’s Epsilon rocket on its first test flight. (Credit: JAXA)

Flush from its inaugural launch in September, JAXA’s new Epsilon launch vehicle has received prizes  from two different organizations.

The Epsilon launch vehicle recently received the Nikkei Award for Excellence at the 2013 Nikkei Superior Products and Services Awards (the 32nd event).   The rocket was also honored with the Gold Award in the JFY 2013 Good Design competition.

“We would like to accept this award as an incentive to work harder to improve the Epsilon and reduce its costs so that space research and development and its application can be expanded and space can become more well-known and closer to people’s lives in the world,” JAXA said of the Nikkei award in a press release.

Team Epsilon (Credit: JAXA)
Team Epsilon (Credit: JAXA)

Nikkei Inc. has been recognizing superior new products and services every year since 1982 when it was called the “Nikkei Outstanding Product of the Year Awards.” The awards name was changed to the current name in 1987 (the 6th awards,) and this year marks the 32nd event. Nomination is not based on public application or participation, but Nikkei Inc. selects candidate products and services in their own method every September to November, then selects some 40 winning products and services through a judging committee at the end of the year.

The Epsilon booster also received the JFY 2013 Good Design Award Gold Award sponsored by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion.

Epsilon was listed as one of the 1,212 Good Design Award winners from 3,400 nominees in the JFY 2013 competition. The launch vehicle was then selected for the best 100 products, and finally chosen for the Gold Award this time.

Epsilon on the launch pad. (Credit: JAXA)
Epsilon on the launch pad. (Credit: JAXA)

The following is the evaluation of the Epsilon from the Good Design Award selection committee.

“The Epsilon Launch Vehicle is not a transportation system for carrying people. It is a rocket to transport observation satellites and equipment to space. Japan possesses excellent solid propellant rocket technology, and the development purpose of the Epsilon is obvious. It exclusively aimed at concentrating every aspect of technology so it is high performance, lightweight and compact in size, as well as being low priced, and simple for assembly, launch preparation and post-launch operations.

“By doing so, rocket launches will not be considered as an unusual heavy-duty task but just ‘a part of daily life.’ This view is consistent with the goal of industrial design, thus we would like to highly evaluate the Epsilon in this regard. The launch vehicle itself is quite simple. JAXA’s attitude ‘to lower the threshold to space (JAXA)’ requires further symbolism in appearance design. In that sense, we would like to expect the possibility of more elaboration in graphic design. We had wondered if the Epsilon is an appropriate award candidate for the mobility division, but we concluded that it is the right target for the award if we understand the Epsilon as a means to transport our dreams to space. We would like the Epsilon to proudly compete in the international market.”