Four Japanese companies form a joint venture to develop small rockets

IHI Aerospace's Epsilon. Image courtesy of JAXA>

Four Japanese companies – IHI Aerospace, Canon Electronics, Shimizu Corporation, and the Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) – have formed the New Generation Small Rocket Development Planning Co., Ltd.

This joint venture, which is 70% owned by Canon Electronics, will provide launch services using small rockets, and aims to capture part of the growing smallsat market. Heading it will be Mr. Shinichiro Ota, who, according to the Nikkei Asian Review, used to head the Japan patent office.

Also according to the Nikkei Asian Review, the joint venture aims to develop solid-fuel rockets with a payload capability of 100kg,  at a maximum price point of US$9.1 million per launch.

In this joint venture, IHI Aerospace will contribute its knowledge of rocket development and systems integration, while Canon Electronics will help with low-cost manufacturing, electronics components such as rocket control instruments. Shimizu Corporation will handle space infrastructure and consulting, with DBJ handling all matters of equity and financing.

All four companies have experience in the space industry, and have worked the Japan’s space agency JAXA on various projects. IHI Aerospace, for example, was responsible for developing JAXA’s Epsilon rocket and provides infrastructure for Japan’s module on the International Space Station (ISS). Canon Electronics, too, has developed and tested rocket control equipment, although it does not have experience in launch vehicles.

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