Epsilon (rocket)

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Epsilon
Epsilon rocket.png
Artist's impression
Function Carrier rocket
Country of origin Japan
Size
Height 24.4m
Diameter 2.5m
Mass 91t
Stages 3–4
Capacity
Payload to
250x500 km orbit
3 stages
1,200 kilograms (2,600 lb)
Payload to
500 km orbit
4 stages
700 kilograms (1,500 lb)
Payload to
500 km SSO
4 stages
450 kilograms (990 lb)
Launch history
Status Active
Launch sites Uchinoura
Total launches 1
Successes 1
First flight September 14, 2013
First Stage - SRB-A3
Engines 1 solid
Thrust 2,271 kN[1]
Specific impulse 284 seconds[1]
Burn time 116 seconds[1]
Fuel
Second Stage - M-34c
Engines 1 solid
Thrust 371.5 kN[1]
Specific impulse 300 seconds[1]
Burn time 105 seconds[1]
Fuel
Third Stage - KM-V2b
Engines 1 solid
Thrust 99.8 kN[1]
Specific impulse 301 seconds[1]
Burn time 90 seconds[1]
Fuel
Fourth Stage (optional) - CLPS
Engines
Thrust
Specific impulse 215 seconds[1]
Fuel hydrazine

The Epsilon rocket (イプシロンロケット Ipushiron roketto?) (formerly Advanced Solid Rocket) is a Japanese solid-fuel rocket designed to launch scientific satellites. It is a follow-on project to the larger and more expensive M-V rocket which was retired in 2006. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) began developing the Epsilon in 2007. It is designed to be capable of placing a 1.2 tonne payload into low earth orbit.[2]

Vehicle description[edit]

The development aim is to reduce costs compared to the US$70 million launch cost of an M-V.[3] The Epsilon costs US$38 million (£23m) per launch, which is half the cost of its predecessor.[4] Development expenditures by JAXA exceeded US$200 million.[4]

To reduce the cost per launch the Epsilon uses the existing SRB-A3 as a solid rocket booster on the H-IIA rocket as its first stage. Existing M-V upper stages will be used for the second and third stages, with an optional fourth stage available for launches to higher orbits. The J-1 rocket, which was developed during the 1990s, but abandoned after just one launch, used a similar design concept, with an H-II booster and Mu-3S-II upper stages.[citation needed]

The Epsilon is expected to have a shorter launch preparation time than its predecessors.[5][6][7] The rocket has a mass of 91 tonnes (90 long tons; 100 short tons) and is 24.4 metres (80 ft) tall and 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) in diameter.[8][9]

Due to a function called "mobile launch control",[10] the rocket needs only eight people at the launch site, compared with 150 people for earlier launches.[11]

Launch history[edit]

First launch of the Epsilon rocket on September 14, 2013

Epsilon rockets are launched from a pad at the Uchinoura Space Center previously used by Mu rockets. The maiden flight, carrying the SPRINT-A scientific satellite, lifted off at 05:00 UTC (14:00 JST) on September 14, 2013. The launch was conducted at a cost of $38 million.[12]

On August 27, 2013, the first planned launch of the rocket had to be aborted 19 seconds before liftoff because of a botched data transmission. A ground-based computer had tried to receive data from the rocket 0.07 seconds before the information was actually transmitted.[13]

The initial version of Epsilon has a payload capacity to low Earth orbit of up to 500 kilograms,[14][15] with the operational version expected to be able to place 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lb) into a 250 by 500 kilometres (160 by 310 mi) orbit, or 700 kilograms (1,500 lb) to a circular orbit at 500 kilometres (310 mi) with the aid of an hydrazine fueled stage.[4]

Date/Time (UTC) Stages Payload Orbit (km) Outcome Remarks
September 14, 2013, 05:00 4[16] SPRINT-A (HISAKI) 950 x 1,150 x 31° Successful[4] 340 kg satellite

Epsilon's second mission is scheduled for 2015 with a mission to study solar storm effects on Earth.[4]

Internet data leak[edit]

In November 2012, JAXA reported that there had been a possible leak of rocket data due to a computer virus. JAXA had previously been a victim of cyber-attacks, possibly for espionage purposes.[17] Solid-fuel rocket data potentially has military value,[17] and Epsilon is considered as potentially adaptable to an Intercontinental ballistic missile.[18] The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency removed the infected computer from its network, and said its M-V rocket and H-IIA and H-IIB rockets may have been compromised.[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "イプシロンロケットの開発および準備状況". JAXA. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Epsilon Launch Vehicle" (pdf). JAXA. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Asteroid probe, rocket get nod from Japanese panel". Spaceflight Now. August 11, 2010. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Clark, Stephen (September 14, 2013). "Japan's 'affordable' Epsilon rocket triumphs on first flight". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Epsilon launch vehicle". JAXA. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  6. ^ Yasuhiro Morita, Takayuki Imoto, Hiroto Habu, Hirohito Ohtsuka, Keiichi Hori, Takemasa Koreki, Apollo Fukuchi, Yasuyuki Uekusa, Ryojiro Akiba (July 10, 2009). "Advanced Solid Rocket Launcher and its Evolution". 27th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science. Retrieved September 20, 2009. 
  7. ^ Kazuyuki Miho, Toshiaki Hara, Satoshi.Arakawa, Yasuo Kitai, Masao Yamanishi (July 10, 2009). "A minimized facility concept of the Advanced Solid Rocket launch operation". 27th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science. Retrieved September 20, 2009. 
  8. ^ "JAXA readies small rocket to break cost, use barriers". Japan Times. November 9, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  9. ^ Epsilon Launch Vehicle Information
  10. ^ "New Epsilon rocket chalks up first launch". Japan Times. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Japan's Laptop-Controlled Space Rocket Blasts Off". International Business Times. Retrieved September 14, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Epsilon rocket all aces this time". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved September 14, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Launch rehearsed for new rocket". Japan Times. Retrieved September 14, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Interview: Yasuhiro Morita, Project Manager, Epsilon Launch Vehicle". JAXA. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  15. ^ Stephen Clark (November 5, 2012). "Japan schedules launch of innovative Epsilon rocket". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Launch Result of Epsilon-1 with SPRINT-A aboard". JAXA. 14 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Iain Thomson (November 30, 2012). "Malware slurps rocket data from Japanese space agency". The Register. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Japan's New Military Buildup Seen as Response to North Korea, China". National Journal. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  19. ^ "Virus hits Japan space programme". 3 News NZ. December 3, 2012. 

External links[edit]