While Japan’s next launch vehicle might have had an official title of Next Generation Launch Vehicle and has its development fully funded to the tune of US$1.9 billion, JAXA’s rocket successor to the current H2A/H2B still needed a catchier name. And thus it has gained one…the one that most in the industry were already calling it: the H-3 (H-III).
The now officially titled H-3 rocket, which is being built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), will use a main stage powered by two new LOx (liquid oxygen)/Liquid Hydrogen 2,900kN (sea level) LE-X engines using the efficient but simpler and cheaper to build expander cycle. The upper stage will use a single 137kN (vacuum) LE-5B cryogenic engine also burning LOx/Liquid Hydrogen. These stages will be supplemented by up to six 9,220kN solid strap-on rocket boosters.
The rocket has been designed to be much more competitive in the world launch market with a target price of US$65 million for the launch of a 6.5 metric ton satellite to GTO . This represents a 40% cut in the launch price relative to an H2A/H2B. Its maiden launch is due in 2020.