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Japan unveils new space rocket

H-IIB launch vehicle is an upgraded version of the current H-IIA launch vehicle (in the image). JAXA file photo

TOKYO (BNS): Scientists are giving final touches to Japan's H-2B rocket, hoping it will boost the country's prestige when it is launched later this year.

Early last week, in front of media Japan's space agency and industrial giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) unveiled the rocket's body. The MHI did this only after submitting them to a rigorous procedure of finger printing, an air shower to remove all dust and a requirement to wear chemical suits.

Tomihisa Nakamura, a researcher who heads the project at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said that they expect to make a trial launch towards the middle of this year if all the manufacturing and intermediary steps go as planned.

The researcher said that the H-2B designed to take supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) and launch satellites is more imposing than its predecessor, the H-2A.

When it is ready, the H-2B is expected to be 56 metres, three metres more than its sister rocket.

Giving details, JAXA said, that the rocket is 5.2 metres wide compared to four metres for the H-2A weighs 530 tonnes, and is equipped with two engines and four auxiliary propulsers or ‘boosters’. The H-2B is initially intended to bring supplies of up to six tonnes per year via an unmanned HTV spacecraft, or ‘H-2 Transfer Vehicle,’ to the ISS, JAXA said.

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