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Satellite Communications Technology

Vietnamese Earth observation satellite LOTUSat-1 to be launched by Epsilon launch vehicle

(12 June 2020 - JAXA) The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has signed a contract with NEC to launch a Vietnamese Earth observation satellite LOTUSat-1 using Japan’s Epsilon Launch Vehicle from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

LOTUSat-1 is developed and manufactured by NEC and scheduled for launch in 2023. This marks the first contract for the Epsilon Launch Vehicle to launch an overseas satellite.

The Epsilon Launch Vehicle is built upon solid-propellant rocket technology that Japan accumulated over more than 60 years since the early days of small experimental vehicle “Pencil Rocket”. JAXA is currently advancing the Epsilon S Launch Vehicle project aimed at strengthen Epsilon’s international competitiveness in the satellite launch market by achieving a synergistic effect with the H3 Launch Vehicle. LOTUSat-1 will be launched onboard a demonstration flight of the Epsilon S Launch Vehicle Project.

Overview of the Epsilon S Launch Vehicle

The Epsilon Launch Vehicle is built upon solid-propellant rocket technology that Japan accumulated over more than 60 years since the early days of small experimental vehicle “Pencil Rocket”. The vehicle is designated as a Japan’s mainstay rocket in the national Basic Plan on Space Policy (approved in April 1, 2016).

JAXA is developing the Epsilon S Launch Vehicle based on the technical achievements, aimed at strengthen Epsilon’s international competitiveness in the satellite launch market by: (1) demonstrating synergistic effects with the H3 Launch Vehicle; (2) achieving lower launch costs while maintaining high reliability as our mainstay rocket; and (3) refining user-friendly operation and performance for satellite customers until payload deployment. The goal is to construct a system which enables the private business operator (IHI Aerospace Co., Ltd.) to independently conduct the launch service business and actively join the expanding global small satellites launch market.

Characteristics

  • Launch Capability: Sun Synchronous Orbit: Over 600 kg (Altitude 350 to 700 km), (Extra goal: Over 800 kg (Altitude 350 km)), Low Earth Orbit: Over 1,400 kg (Altitude 500 km, Orbit Inclination Angle 31.1 deg)
  • Expandability for Multiple Satellites Launch
  • Orbit Insertion Accuracy: Altitude Error: ±15 km or less, Orbit Inclination Angle Error: ±0.15 degree or less
  • Satellite Environment: World First-class Acoustic, Vibration and Impact environments
  • Launch Price: Competitive price range in the world market for small satellite launch.
  • Launch Slot: Two launches or more in three months
  • Period from Contract Conclusion to Launch: Within 12 months
  • Period from Satellite Acceptance to Launch: Within 10 days
  • Late Access (Final Access to Satellite): Until 3 hours prior to lift off

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Epsilon S Launch Vehicle (Reference Configuration) (courtesy: JAXA)