JAXA, IHI Aerospace Finalize Plan for Upgraded Epsilon S Rocket

Epsilon launches ASNARO-2 satellite. (Credit: JAXA)

More powerful booster to utilize new first stage based on solid rocket booster from H3 launch vehicle

Translated from Japanese by Google Translate

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has established a basic agreement regarding the development of the Epsilon S rocket and the launch transportation service business using the developed rocket by IHI Aerospace Co., Ltd.

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, the conclusion ceremony of this basic agreement was held at the JAXA Tokyo office, and JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa and IA President Takashi Makino signed the basic agreement.

The Epsilon S rocket is based on the enhanced Epsilon rocket developed by JAXA, and aims to enhance international competitiveness by exerting synergistic effects with the H3 rocket, which is a large liquid rocket currently under development.

Epsilon SEpsilon
Low Earth Orbit1,400 kg or more1,200 kg (250 x 500 km)
700 kg (500 km circular)
Sun Synchronous Orbit600-800 kg450 kg

Epsilon S Characteristics

  • Launch capacity
    SSO orbit: 600 kg or more (altitude 350-700 km) (Extra target: 800 kg or more (altitude 350km)) 
    LEO orbit: 1,400 kg or more (altitude 500 km, orbit inclination 31.1 deg)
  • Ensure expandability for launching multiple satellites
  • Orbit input accuracy: Altitude error ±15 km or less, orbit inclination angle error ±0.15 deg or less
  • Satellite-mounted environment: World-class acoustic, vibration, and shock environment
  • Standard launch price: Competitive price range in the global small satellite launch market
  • Launch slot: 2 or more launches can be performed in 3 months
  • Period from contract to launch: within 12 months
  • Period from satellite reception to launch: within 10 days
  • Late access (access to onboard satellites before launch): Possible up to 3 hours before launch

This basic agreement is to build a system that can independently launch transportation service business using the Epsilon S rocket, maintain and develop the industrial base, and transform the space transportation system into an independent and sustainable business structure.

For this purpose, the basic items such as the roles that JAXA and IA play in the development and operation stages are defined. Based on this basic agreement, JAXA plans to proceed with the development of the Epsilon S rocket and the launch transportation service based on this basic agreement.

JAXA Chairman Yamakawa said:

“Today, we have signed a basic agreement with IHI Aerospace President Makino on the development and operation of the internationally competitive Epsilon S rocket. I am very pleased that we have taken an extremely important step in the sense that we have prepared a series of foundations.

In the satellite launch market in recent years, the use of space business is rapidly expanding due to technological advances in miniaturization and integration, and there are many market trends in which launch demand for satellites with extremely diverse mass, size, and applications is planned.

With this Epsilon S rocket, while maintaining and developing the solid fuel rocket that has been used up to now, we will secure launch opportunities by actively capturing private demand in addition to public demand, and develop independent launch transport services. With the aim of expanding the scale of Japan’s space industry, I would like to do my best together with IA. Thank you for your continued support. “

IA President Makino said:

“I am very pleased to be able to conclude the Basic Agreement on the Development and Launch Transportation Service Business of the Epsilon S Rocket today. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the people who have made their efforts. I will tell you.

In the future, in order to roll out launch transportation services using the Epsilon S to the world, we will not only develop but also build an operational system for all phases from customer development to launch. Looking at the world, the space industry is starting a new business with new players. For the Epsilon S, we would like to receive an order for the launch service of a commercial satellite in addition to the satellite launch of one country per year, and we would like to develop it into an independent and sustainable business.

The launch of the Epsilon S demonstrator is scheduled for 2023, but by then the launch of the current Epsilon is also planned. We will continue to do our best with JAXA so that we can continue the successful launch and gain momentum in the launch of the Epsilon S launch service. We ask for your support. “

Meaning of S: Synergy x Speed ​​(immediate response) x Smart (high performance) x Superior (competitiveness) x Service (launch transportation service)

Outline of Basic Agreement

This basic agreement is to build a system that can independently launch launch transportation service business using the Epsilon S rocket, maintain and develop the industrial base, and transform the space transportation system into an independent and sustainable business structure. For this purpose, the basic items such as the roles that JAXA and IA play in the development and operation stages are defined.

While JAXA will coordinate the development of the comprehensive system for the Epsilon S rocket (rocket system and launch facility equipment system), from the perspective of a private company independently supporting the launch transportation service business using the Epsilon S rocket, The development of rocket systems is divided among the roles of private businesses.

The following table shows the basic ideas regarding the roles of JAXA and private business operators, which are defined in the basic agreement.

JAXAPrivate Business
Development stageResponsible for the “comprehensive system” that integrates the rocket system and launch facility equipment system, secures Japan’s independent space transportation system, and maintains and utilizes existing technology and rocket technology base in launch facility.Considering the development of an independent launch transportation service business at the operation stage, we will independently develop a rocket system.
Operation stageBy maintaining the solid rocket technology base and key technologies of Japan, promoting R&D and transferring the results to private enterprises, etc., it will contribute to the development of launch transportation service business of private enterprises.The policy is to respond to the rocket’s quality improvement, design improvement, nonconformity countermeasures, measures against exhaustion, etc. based on its own judgment, and develop the launch transportation service business to contribute to the maintenance and improvement of Japan’s industrial base.