Epsilon flight F2 before launch in December 2016
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Cost per launch||US$39 million|
|Height||24.4 m (Demonstration Flight) / 26 m (Enhanced)|
|Mass||91 t (Demonstration Flight) / 95.4 t (Enhanced)|
|Payload to 250x500 km orbit|
Standard 3 stages configuration
|1,500 kilograms (3,300 lb)|
|Payload to 500 km orbit|
Optional 4 stages configuration
|700 kilograms (1,500 lb)|
|Payload to 500 km SSO|
Optional 4 stages configuration
|590 kilograms (1,300 lb)|
|First flight||September 14, 2013|
|Last flight||January 18, 2019|
|First stage – SRB-A3|
|Specific impulse||284 seconds|
|Burn time||116 seconds|
|Second stage (Demonstration Flight) – M-34c|
|Specific impulse||300 seconds|
|Burn time||105 seconds|
|Second stage (Enhanced) – M-35|
|Specific impulse||295 seconds[failed verification]|
|Burn time||129 seconds[failed verification]|
|Third stage (Demonstration Flight) – KM-V2b|
|Specific impulse||301 seconds|
|Burn time||90 seconds|
|Third stage (Enhanced) – KM-V2c|
|Specific impulse||299 seconds[failed verification]|
|Burn time||88 seconds[failed verification]|
|Fourth stage (Optional) – CLPS|
|Specific impulse||215 seconds|
|Burn time||1100 sec. (max.)|
The Epsilon Launch Vehicle, or 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 capable of placing a 590 kg payload into Sun-synchronous orbit.
The development aim is to reduce costs compared to the US$70 million launch cost of an M-V. The Epsilon costs US$38 million (£23m) per launch, which is half the cost of its predecessor. Development expenditures by JAXA exceeded US$200 million.
To reduce the cost per launch the Epsilon uses the existing SRB-A3, 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.
The Epsilon is expected to have a shorter launch preparation time than its predecessors. Due to a function called "mobile launch control", the rocket needs only eight people at the launch site, compared with 150 people for earlier systems.
Requirements for the improvement:
- Apogee ≧ 28700 km (summer launch), ≧ 31100 km (winter launch) of a 365 kg payload
- Sun-synchronous orbit (500 km) of a ≧ 590 kg payload
- Larger fairing
- Height: 26.0 m
- Diameter: 2.5 m
- Mass: 95.1 t (Standard) / 95.4 t (Optional 4th stage (post-boost stage))
Catalog performance according to IHI Aerospace:
- Low-earth orbit (250 km × 500 km): 1.5 t
- Sun-synchronous orbit (500 km × 500 km): 0.6 t
- Height: 26.0 m
- Diameter: 2.6 m (max), 2.5 m (fairing)
- Mass: 95.4 t (Standard) / 95.7 t (Optional)
Epsilon's first stage has been the modified SRB-A3 which is the solid-rocket booster of H-IIA. As the H-IIA is to be decommissioned and to be replaced by H3, Epsilon is to be replaced by new version, named Epsilon S.
Major changes of Epsilon S from Epsilon are:
- The first stage is based on SRB-3, the strap-on solid-rocket booster of H3.
- The third stage is a new design, whereas Epsilon's third stage was based on the M-V's third stage. New third stage is three-axis stabilized using Post-Boost Stage (PBS), whereas Epsilon's third stage was spin-stabilized. Also the third stage is outside the fairing, whereas Epsilon's fairing covered the third stage.
- The Post-Boost Stage is mandatory, whereas Epsilon's PBS was optional.
Planned performance of Epsilon S is:
- Sun-synchronous orbit (350 - 700km): ≧ 600 kg
- Low-earth orbit (500 km): ≧ 1400 kg
The first launch of Epsilon S is planned in 2023.
- Partial failure
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.
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.
The initial version of Epsilon has a payload capacity to low Earth orbit of up to 500 kilograms, 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 a hydrazine fueled stage.
|Flight No.||Date / time (UTC)||Rocket,
|Launch site||Payload||Payload mass||Orbit||Customer||Launch |
|1||September 14, 2013
|Epsilon 4 Stages||Uchinoura Space Center||SPRINT-A (HISAKI)||340 kg||LEO||JAXA||Success|
|2||December 20, 2016
|Epsilon 3 Stages||Uchinoura Space Center||ERG (ARASE)||350 kg||Geocentric||JAXA||Success|
|3||January 17, 2018
|Epsilon 4 Stages||Uchinoura Space Center||ASNARO-2||570 kg||SSO||Japan Space Systems||Success|
|4||January 18, 2019
|Epsilon 4 Stages||Uchinoura Space Center||RAPIS-1
|Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration-1; Component demonstration and technology validation.|
|Date / time (UTC)||Rocket,
|2020||Epsilon||Uchinoura Space Center||RAISE-2
|2022||Epsilon||Uchinoura Space Center||RAISE-3
|2023||Epsilon||Uchinoura Space Center||Competitive M-class #3||JAXA|
|2023||Epsilon||Uchinoura Space Center||LOTUSAT-1|
|2024||Epsilon||Uchinoura Space Center||DESTINY+||High Earth||JAXA|
|2024||Epsilon||Uchinoura Space Center||Innovative SatelliteTechnology Demonstration-4|
|(TBD)||Epsilon||Uchinoura Space Center||Competitive M-class #4|
Internet data leak
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. Solid-fuel rocket data potentially has military value, and Epsilon is considered as potentially adaptable to an intercontinental ballistic missile. 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.
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- Epsilon Launch Vehicle Information
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