Space Launch Report:  H3 Data Sheet
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h3-flt.jpg (6765 bytes)H3

Vehicle Configurations

Vehicle Components

H2-H3 Launch History

Illustration of H3 with Four SRB-A Boosters

Japan's H3 Launch Vehicle, planned for a first launch by 2020, will use two liquid hydrogen/oxygen core stages augmented by up to four strap-on solid rocket boosters.  Although similar in those respects to Japan's existing H-2A and H-2B launch vehicles, H3 will cover a wider range of payload masses and orbits than the most-often-flown H-2A while still handling the H-2B low earth orbit payloads like HTV.  H3 will use lower cost main engines and streamlined launch processing techniques.   Plans call for launch cost reductions of 50% compared to H-2A.  The new rocket will lift payloads ranging from 4 tonnes to a 500 km sun synchronous orbit using no solid boosters to 6.5 tonnes to geosynchronous transfer orbit using four boosters.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) officially began development of H3 during 2013, but work on the heart of the new machine - its innovative first stage engine - began in 2006.  That is when Mitsubishi and IHI began work on the LE-X Expander Bleed Cycle (EBC) engine.  LE-X led to the LE-9 engine that will power H3.     The expander bleed cycle diverts hydrogen from the engine turbopump to the main combustion chamber's cooling channels and uses the resulting heated hydrogen to drive the turbines before it is injected into the engine exhaust.  Expander cycle engines have flown on low-thrust upper stages before - Japan's LE-5A and LE-5B were second stage EBC engines - but have never been used for a high-thrust first stage application.  The design is simpler than a staged combustion design and results in a more robust engine operating at lower pressures and temperatures.   A tradeoff is slightly lower specific impulse.  LE-9 will be the highest thrust EBC engine ever developed.

The H3 Launch Vehicle will be a 2 to 2.5 stage rocket.   The first stage, likely loaded with more than 200 tonnes of propellant, will be powered by two or three new LE-9 engines, each producing about 150 tonnes of thrust at a 432 second vacuum specific impulse.  Two or four SRB-A type solid rocket boosters can be attached to the first stage, each making about 220 tonnes of thrust.   These will be about 2.5 meters diameter. The second stage will be powered by one or two improved LE-5B engines each making 14 tonnes of thrust at a specific impulse of at least 448 seconds.   H3 will stand about 63 meters tall and will be about 5.2 meters in diameter.

H3 will launch from Tagenashima's Yoshinobu launch pad No. 2, currently used by H-2B.   The launch facilities will be modified for H3.

In many ways, H3 appears to be an improved H-2B.  It uses a 5.2 meter diameter core like H-2B, an improved LE-5B powered second stage, and SRB-A boosters like H-2B.  The big difference is that the core stage will be able to lift itself, using the higher-thrust LE-9 engines, without SRBs for smaller payload missions.  Cost reduction will result from the elimination of the 4 meter diameter H-2A production line.  Another difference is that both the second stage and the payload fairing will expand to the same 5.2 meters diameter as the first stage.

h3-h2.jpg (15615 bytes)Development

Comparison of H2A/H2B and H3

H3 development was authorized by Japan's government on May 17, 2013. The new effort's main goal was cost reduction, with a launch cost goal in the $50 to $65 million range. 

A system requirements review (SRR) was completed during July 2014, when Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was selected as the prime contractor.  During February and March 11, 2015, a system definition review (SDR) was completed.  A PDR basic design review was expected to be complete by the end of 2015.  Critical Design Review (CDR) was planned for mid 2017, allowing flight hardware production to begin. 

Current planning calls for the first H3 to fly without boosters in 2020 and with boosters a year later. 

 

Vehicle Configurations

  LEO
Payload
(metric tons)
250 km x 30 deg [1]
250 km x 51.6 deg [2]
500 km x 98.7 deg [3]
GTO
Payload
1800 m/s
from GEO*
(metric
tons)
GTO
Payload
1500 m/s
from GEO*
(metric
tons)
Configuration LIftoff
Height
(meters)
Liftoff
Mass
(metric tons)
not including
payload
H-IIA 202 10 t [1] 3.8 t   2SRB-A + Stg1
+ Stg2 + PLF
53 290 t
H-IIA 2022
(retired)
  4.2 t   2SRB-A + 2SSB
+ Stg1 + Stg2
+ PLF
53 m 320 t
H-IIA 2024
(retired)
  4.7 t
5.0 t**
  2SRB-A + 4SSB
+ Stg1 + Stg2
+ PLF
53 m 350 t
348 t**
H-IIA 204   5.7 t   4SRB-A + Stg1
+ Stg2 + PLF
53 m 445 t
H-IIB 304 16.5 t [2] 8 t 5.5 t 4SRB-A + H2BStg1
+ Stg2 + PLF
56.6 m 531 t
H3-X00 4 t [3]   ~2.5 t H3 Stg1 + H3 Stg2 + PLF 63 m  
H3-X02     ~4 t 2xSRB-A + H3 Stg1
+ H3 Stg2 + PLF
63 m  
H3-X04     6.5 t 4xSRB-A + H3 Stg1
+ H3 Stg2 + PLF
63 m  

* GEO:  Geosynchronous Earth Orbit
** Beginning with F14


Vehicle Components

  SRB-A
(each)
SSB
(each)
H-IIA
1st Stage
H-IIB
1st Stage
H-IIA/B
2nd Stage
H3
1st Stage
H3
2nd Stage
H-IIA
Payload
Fairing
H-IIB
5S-H
Payload
Fairing
H3
Payload
Fairing
Diameter (m) 2.5 m 1 m 4.0 m 5.2 m 4.0 m 5.2 m 5.2 m 4.07 m 5.1 m 5.2 m
Length (m) 15.1 m 14.9 m 37.2 m 38 m 9.2 m ~36 m ~9 m 12.0 m 15 m ~16.7 m
Propellant Mass (tons) 66 t
65 t**
13.1 t 101.1 t 177.8 t 16.9 t ~209 t - - - -
Total Mass (tons) 77 t
75.5 t**
15.5 t 114 t 202 t 20.0 t ~238 t - 1.4 t 3.2 t ~3.5 t
Engine SRB-A SSB LE-7A 2xLE-7A LE-5B
LE-5B-2**
LE-9 LE-5B+ - - -
Engine Mfgr Nissan   MHI MHI MHI MHI MHI - - -
Fuel Solid Solid LH2 LH2 LH2 LH2 LH2 - - -
Oxidizer - - LOX LOX LOX LOX LOX - - -
Thrust
(SL tons)
- - - - - - - - - -
Thrust
(Vac tons)
230 t 75.97 t 112 t 223.9 t 14 t 300/450 t 14 t - - -
ISP (SL sec) - -- - - - - - - - -
ISP (Vac sec) 280 s
282.5 s**
282 s 440 s 440 s 447 s
448 s**
432 s 448 s+ - - -
Burn Time (sec) 100 s 60 s 397 s 352 s 530 s - - - - -
No. Engines 1 1 1 2 1 2 or 3 1 or 2 - - -
** Beginning with F14

H-2(A/B) Launch History

DATE     VEHICLE           ID      PAYLOAD                  MASS(t) SITE*   ORBIT**
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
02/03/94 H-2               1F      OREX                      3.256 TA Y1     GTO [1a]
08/28/94 H-2               2F      ETS-6/LAPS                3.80  TA Y1     GTO [1b]

03/18/95 H-2+SSB           3F      SFU/GMS-5                 4.747 TA Y1     GTO [1c]

08/17/96 H-2               4F      ADEOS/JAS 2               3.70  TA Y1     LEO/S

11/27/97 H-2               6F      TRMM/ETS-7                6.52  TA Y1     LEO [1d]

02/21/98 H-2               5F      COMETS                    3.90  TA Y1    [EEO] [1]

11/15/99 H-2S [LE5B]       8F      MTSAT                     2.90  TA Y1    [FTO] [2] 

08/29/01 H-2A-202          TF1     VEP-2/LRE                 4.00? TA Y1     GTO

02/04/02 H-2A-2024         TF2     MDS/DASH                  0.572 TA Y1     GTO [3a]
09/10/02 H-2A-2024         TF3     USERS/DRTS                3.30  TA Y1     GTO [3b]
12/14/02 H-2A-202          TF4     ADEOS 2/3xusats           3.856 TA Y1     LEO/S

03/28/03 H-2A-2024         F5      IGS-Optical 1/Radar 1     2.05  TA Y1     LEO/S
11/29/03 H-2A-2024         F6      IGS-Optical/Radar         2.05  TA Y1    [FTO] [3]

02/26/05 H-2A-2022         F7      MT-Sat 1R                 3.30  TA Y1     GTO

01/24/06 H-2A-2022         F8      ALOS                      4.00  TA Y1     LEO/S
02/18/06 H-2A-2024         F9      MTSAT-2                   4.65  TA Y1     GTO
09/11/06 H-2A-202          F10     IGS-Optical 2             0.85  TA Y1     LEO/S
12/18/06 H-2A-204          F11     ETS-8                     5.80  TA Y1     GTO

02/24/07 H-2A 2024         F12     IGS-Radar 2/Optical 3V   ~2.05  TA Y1     LEO/S
09/14/07 H-2A-2022         F13     SELENE Lunar Orbiter      3.09  TA Y1     HTO

02/23/08 H-2A/2024         F14     KIZUNA (WINDS)            4.85  TA Y1     GTO

01/23/09 H-2A-202          F15     GOSAT (Ibuki)             1.98  TA Y1     LEO/S
09/10/09 H-2B-304          TF1     HTV 1                    16.00  TA Y2     LEO/ISS[4]
11/28/09 H-2A-202          F16     IGS Optical 3               -   TA Y1     LEO/S

05/20/10 H-2A-202          F17     Akatsuki/Ikaros           0.81  TA Y1     HCO [5]
09/11/10 H-2A-202          F18     Michibiki                 4.00  TA Y1     GTO/i

01/22/11 H-2B-304          F2      HTV-2                    16.00  TA Y2     LEO/ISS
09/23/11 H-2A-202          F19     IGS-Optical 4               -   TA Y1     LEO/S
12/12/11 H-2A-202          F20     IGS-Radar 3                 -   TA Y1     LEO/S

05/17/12 H-2A-202          F21     GCOM W1/Kompsat 3         2.848 TA Y1     LEO/S
07/21/12 H-2B-304          F3      HTV-3(Kounotori)         15.90  TA Y2     LEO/ISS

01/27/13 H-2A-202          F22     IGS Radar 4/Optical 5       -   TA Y1     LEO/S
08/03/13 H-2B-304          F4      HTV-4                    15.90  TA Y2     LEO/ISS

02/27/14 H-2A-202          F23     GPM Core Observatory      3.85  TA Y1     LEO
05/24/14 H-2A-202          F24     ALOS 2 + 4usats           2.275 TA Y1     LEO/S
10/07/14 H-2A-202          F25     Himawari 8                3.5   TA Y1     GTO
12/03/14 H-2A-202          F26     Hayabusa 2                0.71  TA Y1     HCO [6]

02/01/15 H-2A-202          F27     IGS-Radar Spare             -   TA Y1     LEO/S
03/26/15 H-2A-202          F28     IGS Optical 5                   TA Y1     LEO/S
08/19/15 H-2B-304          F5      HTV-5                    16.2   TA Y2     LEO/ISS
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTES:

[1a] Test flight sent 2.39 tonne Vehicle Evaluation Payload (VEP) dummysat to GTO 
       and 0.865 tonne Orbital Re-entry Experiment (OREX) to LEO.  OREX completed 
       one orbit and reentered to acquire re-entry data for HOPE spaceplane project.

[1b] H-2 successfully inserted ETS 6 (Engineering Test Satellite) and its LAPS 
       (Liquid Apogee Propolsion Stage) into GTO, but LAPS failed to raise orbit 
        to GEO.  Left in 8,565 x 38,677 km x 13.23 deg orbit.  ETS 6 weighed 
        2 tonnes.  LAPS weighed 1.8 tonnes.    

[1c] GMS 5 (Geostationary Meteorological Satellite) and Star 27 AKM weighing 
        0.747 tonnes were placed into GTO.  SFU 1 (Space Flyer Unit) weighing 
        4 tonnes placed in LEO x 28.4 deg.  SFU 1 was retrieved by STS-72 
        on 01/13/96.

[1d] TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) weighed 3.62 tonnes.  ETS 7 docking 
       experiment consisted of 2.5 tonne target and 0.4 tonne chaser.  All placed 
       in LEO x 35 deg.  

[1] COMETS (Communication Engineering Test Satellite) left in unusable orbit.  The 
      second Stage 2 burn cut off after 44 seconds instead of planned 3m 12s due 
      to LE-5A engine nozzle failure.

[2] 1st stg engine H2 leak, failed at T + 4 minutes.

[3a] DASH (Demonstrator of Atmospheric reentry System with Hyperbolic velocity) 
       was intended for LEO reentry test, but failed to separate.

[3b] 2.8 tonne DRTS (Data Relay Test Satellite) to GTO.  0.5 tonne USERS (Unmanned 
        Space Experiment Recovery System) to LEO for reentry test. 

[3] One SRB-A failed to separate.  RSO signal transmitted at T + 11 minutes.

[4] First H-2B with dual-engine core, carrying first HTV 1 cargo spacecraft to ISS.

[5] Akatsuki toward Venus orbit.  Ikaros a solar sail demonstrator in HCO.

[6] Asteroid sample return, 6 year mission.  HCO mass includes three microsats.


ABBREVIATIONS:

[FTO]:  Failed to Orbit
[EEO]:  Unintended Eliptical Earth Orbit
[GTO]:  Unintended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit
[LEO]:  Unintended/Improper Low Earth Orbit

"KA" = Kagoshima Space Center
"TA" = Tanegashima Space Center
"Y" = Yoshinobu Launch Complex 


 References 

H-IIA Brief Description, NASDA, December 2001
H-IIB Product Description, NASDA, 2009

 Last Update:  November 14, 2015