By Daniela Morales, 1oth Grade
On March 6th, the world saw how a Japanese H3 rocket malfunctioned on its first launch. The rocket was propelled at 10:47 am, in a mission led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Once the rocket was in the air, it failed to activate its second-stage engine, which is needed to gain enough velocity so that the rocket stabilizes. Witnessing this, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency sent a destruct command at 10:54, which demolished the aircraft. This failed mission poses an important financial loss on Japan, as it was the second time they tested this aircraft (the first time failed because of an electrical malfunction), and not only did the aircraft go to waste but an ALOS-3, an advanced land observing satellite, did so too (Jones, 2023). However, it doesn’t seem like the Japanese will stop pursuing this rocket anytime soon.
The Japanese government and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have worked for approximately 10 years on H3 rockets, and up until 2023, they have spent 206 billion Japanese yen (SND, 2023). This sum does not take into account that each rocket launch costs $5 billion Japanese yen, which is equivalent to $38 million US dollars. Japan has a few reasons why they’re focusing on producing space technologies. The most crucial one would be that the Japanese hope to make a place for themselves among the club of space powers, now that Russia’s war on Ukraine has limited its capacity to launch commercial rockets. “The Japanese government has determined that it is essential for Japan to lead this huge market for the country’s sustainable economic growth” (Junichiro, 2023).
Despite the failed launches, the future doesn’t look so dark for the H3 rocket, as it has many good traits. The launch cost of every rocket is $5 billion Japanese yen, which, although it’s a lot, it’s 50% less than the launch cost of the most used rockets in Japan now, which are called H-IIA. This cost was achieved by recycling parts of other machines, such as cars, and using them for the electrical mechanism of the rocket. The H3’s engine is also 1.4 times faster than the engine of the H-IIA. Space is reemerging as one of the areas in which global superpowers compete, and knowing this, it would be worth it for the Japanese to take a few failures and perfect their product, so that it can be competitive and gain popularity.
Self-destruct command issued for JAXA H3 rocket. SPACE & DEFENSE. (2023, March 8). Retrieved March 14, 2023, from https://spaceanddefense.io/self-destruct-command-issued-for-jaxa-h3-rocket/
Ito, J. (2023, February 15). Japan’s new H3 rocket targets commercial demand with cost-efficiency. JAPAN Forward. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from https://japan-forward.com/japans-new-h3-rocket-targets-commercial-demand-with-cost-efficiency/
Jones, A. (2023, March 7). Japan’s new H3 rocket fails on 1st test flight, Advanced Earth Observation Satellite lost. Space.com. Retrieved March 14, 2023, from https://www.space.com/japan-h3-rocket-fails-1st-test-flight