It will be the second attempt to debut the H3-22S
The first launch of the Japanese H3 rocket (H3-22S n° TF1 “Test Flight No.1”) with an ALOS-3 optical remote sensing satellite was postponed to March 7, 2023, in the window between 10:37:55 and 10:44:15 JST or 01:37:55 to 01:44:15 UTC, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) on Sunday: "The launch of Japan's new H3 heavy-class launch vehicle at the Tanegashima Space Center in southwest Kagoshima Prefecture has been postponed from March 6 to March 7." This was announced on Saturday, the 5th, by the agency. The flight is planned to take place from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture in the southwest of the country. It should place the satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit with an altitude of 669 km.
The launch, originally scheduled for February 17, was aborted due to a failure associated with a loss of signal between the battery and the main engine control unit. The 574-tonne rocket was supposed to launch the ALOS-3 satellite, weighing about 3 tons, designed to monitor natural disasters, into orbit.
The rocket's first launch attempt was canceled because the SRB-3 auxiliary booster activation signal was not issued. Development manager and project leader Masafumi Okada said that although the main engine had started to run normally, the first stage system had detected an anomaly. Takeoff was aborted because no signal was sent to ignite the booster. He added that the exact cause was yet to be determined. The statement was that they intend to keep the launch within the Japanese fiscal year, which ends March 31, pending detection and resolution of the outage. The first stage LE-9 engines apparently worked according to plan. The rocket will be transported with its ML-5 firing table tonight Japanese time, so the vehicle will be checked.
The rocket will carry the remote sensing satellite ALOS-3 (“Daichi-3”) into a 669 km high supersynchronous orbit inclined at 98.1 degrees. The ALOS developed by Mitsubishi Electric and should continue the series, whose first example was launched in 2006 and deactivated in 2011. The ALOS-3 is equipped with a camera with a higher resolution (0.8 m) with the same width of range (70 km) of predecessors to create high-quality color images. The second satellite in the series, ALOS-2, launched in 2014, continues to operate in orbit.
The satellite is planned to be used for continuous observation of the Earth's surface and its shooting, as well as for the prevention and prevention of natural disasters, monitoring the environment and coastal areas by sending high-precision geospatial data to Earth and will be able to transmit them to other optical repeater satellites.
Initially, the debut of the H3 was scheduled to take place in 2020, but it had to be postponed due to the detection of vibrations in the main engines. Last month, JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Corporation, which developed the rocket, conducted a series of engine tests on the launch pad. Its results were considered successful, no problems were identified.
The primary purpose of the previous rockets, the H-IIA and H-IIB, was primarily government-led space development. This included launching national satellites and the Kounotori transfer vehicle, which transports supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). However, the H3 is aimed at private companies: the developer prioritized commercialization by creating a rocket that would provide “high satisfaction for the diverse needs of customers”. The H-IIA costs around ¥10 billion yen ($76 million) for a launch — more expensive than European and American rockets, making it less competitive. To mitigate this, the H3 was designed from the ground up to reduce costs. JAXA has emphasized the use of off-the-shelf material rather than specially developed parts. In fact, around 90% of the electronic components were replaced with readily available ones, such as car parts. As a result, the launch cost was halved to around ¥5 billion (US$38 million). By keeping the cost of launching each rocket at half the conventional price, the developers aim to appeal to a wide range of commercial demand, including launching satellites for overseas organizations.
The ALOS 3 ( Advanced Land Observation Satellite 3) is an optical Earth observation satellite to be used for cartography, regional observation, disaster monitoring and resource surveying. It is the continuation of the ALOS series optical component. Although high resolution and broadband are generally incompatible functions, ALOS-3 improves ground resolution by about three times that of the previous satellite (2.5 to 0.8 meters at nadir) while remaining in broadband (70 km at nadir). The satellite measures 5 m × 16.5 m × 3.6 m in orbit and weighs about 3 tons. The satellite will observe any point in Japan within 24 hours of receiving the request using the pointing function up to 60 degrees in all directions against the satellite's nadir. It will cover a wide area of more than 200 km x 100 km by multiple scan observations during an orbital path.
The main characteristics of the DAICHI-3 are: higher resolution of captured images; Increased observation wavelength range; Adoption of satellite optical communication. It was equipped with a sensor that acquires black and white images with a terrain resolution of 2.5m and a sensor that acquires color images with a terrain resolution of 10 meters. Equipped with 24 CCD (Charge Coupled Device) sensors, developed internally by Mitsubishi Electric, a total of twelve for black and white and twelve for color.
A new Japanese default launcher
The H3 ("H-3 rocket ") is Japan's largest liquid-fueled launch vehicle. Its length is 63 meters with a main diameter of 5.2 m and a payload capacity of 4 to 6.5 tons in geostationary orbit. It is intended to replace the H2A, which has been in operation since the early 2000s and which is one of the most reliable rockets in the world with 45 launches – of which 44 have been successful.
The H3 has two stages. The first stage uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants and carries two or four solid propellant boosters (SRBs, derived from Model H-IIB SRB-A) using polybutadiene HTPB fuel. The first stage can be equipped with two or three LE-9 engines that use an expander bleed cycle design similar to the LE-5B engine. The mass of fuel and oxidizer of the first stage is 225 tons. The second stage is equipped with an improved LE-5B engine, and the propellant mass of the stage is 23 tons. JAXA expects the H3 to cut launch costs by nearly half, making Tokyo more competitive in the international commercial satellite launch market. Currently, an H2A launch costs Japan 10 billion yen ($75 million at current exchange rates).