H-IIA enters the commercial launch business

Japan’s H-IIA rocket, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, primarily serves the Japanese government, lofting spy satellites, weather satellites, and scientific spacecraft, including SELENE/Kaguya, Ikaros, and the Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample return mission, but as of today it is now also a commercial competitor, having launched Telstar 12 Vantage for Telesat of Ottawa, Canada.

The rocket’s core stage and upper stage both use liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen; note the sparkly pyrotechnics firing under the engines before ignition, just like the Space Shuttle, to burn off excess hydrogen released during the startup process.  The four strap-on boosters (H-IIA flies with 2-4, depending on mission requirements) are solid propellant motors manufactured in Japan.  (Some H-IIAs fly with Castor 4 motors built by ATK, but not this one.  Like the motor count, it depends on mission requirements.)


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