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NASDA vehicles

by Jean-Jacques Serra
listing by Gunter Krebs

The NASDA (National Space Development Agency) was founded in October 1969 by the japanese Space Activity Commission to replace the NSDC (National Space Development Center) created in 1964. The NASDA's mission was to bring the application satellite programs to life and to develop launcher capable of orbiting them.

Three sounding rockets were already used by the NASDA for technological tests. Those were the single stage SB solid fuel rocket of 70 kg, the 2-stage 2.3 tons JCR solid fuel rocket and the 2-stage 2.5 tons LSC which was the only Japanese launcher with liquid propellant. The experience gained in the development of the second stage (stockable propellant) will later be used for the LE-3 motor of the N1.

N1 launchers


The N1 was not a Japan made rocket but a Thor-Delta rocket built under licence which second stage had been designed in Japan.

The first stage was a Long Tank Thor of 2.44 m diameter built by Mitsubishi Heavy Indutries (MHI) under McDonnell Douglas licence. It was powered by a 765 kN MB-3 motor (liquid oxygen and kerosene) built by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) under licence Rocketdyne. This first stage was on during 219 seconds with the help of 3 Castor -2 boosters designed by Nissan under Thiokol licence. The second N1 stage was built by MHI with a TRW licence for the verniers. It was 5.44 m long for 1.62 m diameter and weighed 5.8 tons. It was propulsed by a Japanese LE-3 motor (nitrogen tetraoxide and Aerozine 50) which provided 53 kN (ISp = 285 s) in vacuum during 250 seconds. The solid fuel third stage used the Thiokol TEM-364-14 (Star-37N) propulsor capable of 39 kN during 41 seconds. The launcher was radiocontrolled, the guidance and piloting device was built by Nippon Electric Co Ltd, also under licence.

The complete vehicle was then 90.4 tons for 32.6 m high. It provided 1485 kN at takeoff and could orbit 130 kg in GEO.

The N1 launcher enabled to launch between 1975 and 1982 three technological satellites ( Kiku 1, Kiku 2 and Kiku 4, one in GEO) and two scientific satellites ( Ume 1 and Ume 2). Two other launchers ended as failures with telecommunication satellites ( Ayame 1 and Ayame 2) because of the Aerojet apogee stage.

N2 launchers


First launched in 1981 the N2 rocket was a enhancement of the N1 entirely built under US licence. Even though equiped with the same motor, the new first stage had enlarged tanks (23% more fuel) which enabled 269 seconds burns. Moreover it was assisted by 9 Castor -2 boosters (6 fired at takeoff and the 3 remaining at shutdown of the latters) instead of 3.

The second stage used the AJ-10-118FJ motor built by IHI under Aerojet General licence. The re-ignitable motor herited from the Delta used NTO-Ax50 (Aerozine 50) as propellant and thus provided 48.3 kN (ISp = 314 s) with a total uptime of 420 seconds. The Delta inertial guidance system was installed at the top of the second stage. The third stage was the TEM-364-4 (Star-37E) capable of providing 67 kN thrust during 44 seconds, built by Nissan under Thiokol licence. N2 was 134.7 tons for 35.4 m high and developped a 2150 kN at takeoff. It could place 350 kg in GEO or 1.6 tons in 1000 km circular orbit. It was in fact some kind of clone of the Delta Straight-Eight (constant diameter of 2.44 m). It was fired 8 times between Feb 1981 and Feb 1987 to launch:
- 1 technological satellite: Kiku 3
- 2 meteorological satellites: Himawari 2 & Himawari 3
- 4 telecommunication satellites: Sakura 2s and Yuri 2s
- an ocean observation satellite: Momo 1A

H1 launchers


In the mid-1970 Japan carried out researches to build a launcher more powerful than the N series with a top stage using cryogenic propulsion built in Japan. The first launcher of this new series was H1. It reused the first stage, the boosters and the cap of N2 while the 2nd and 3rd stage were developped in Japan (without US assistance) together with the ISAS and the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL). The second stage used the LE-5, a cryogenic re-ignatable motor (liquid oxygen and hydrogren) built by MHI, IHI and NAL. It provided a 103 kN thrust (ISp = 448 s) during about 400 seconds. The stage (dry) weighed 1.1 tons and carried 8.7 tons propellant. The third stage designed by Nissan was made of a powder bloc (HTPB) of about 2 tons. It could provide a mean thrust of 92 kN (ISp = 291 s) during 62 seconds.

H1 was 138 tons and 40 m high. It could deliver 550 kg in GEO and 2.2 tons in circular 1000 km orbit (two-stage version). It was used 9 times between 1986 and 1992 for:
- a geodesy satellite: Ajisai with a HAM radio satellite: Fuji
- a technological satellite: Kiku 5
- a meteorology satellite: Himawari 4
- 4 telecommunication satellites: Sakura 3s and Yuri 3s
- an ocean observation satellite: Momo 1b
- a remote sensing satellite: Fuyo 1

H2 launchers


The Japanese Space Activity Commission (SAC) decided in 1984 not to enhance the H1 as planned but to develop an new launcher called H2. This H2 is a modern rocket with combined propulsion (two large solid boosters and a cryogenic main motor) entirely designed in Japan.

Each booster is 23.4 m is height, 1.81 m in diameter and weighs 70.4 tons including 60 tons powder (HTPB; ISp = 273 s) providing 1540 kN thrust during 94 seconds. The main body of 4 m diameter up to the cap has 2 stages. The first stage of 28 m heigh weighs 98.1 tons. It features a liquid oxygen and hydrogen LE-7 motor of 843 kN at ground level (1078 kN in vaccum; ISp = 446 s). The second stage weighs 19.7 tons for 10.6 m high and makes use of an enhanced version of LE-5A, the second stage motor of the H1. It provides 121.5 kN thrust (ISp = 452 s) during 610 seconds in two burns. MHI, the integrator of the launcher, also builds the cryogenic motors while Nissan provides the solid boosters.

H2 is nearly 50 m high and weighs 264 tons at takeoff. It can launch 4 tons in GTO, 5 to 6 tons in sun-synchronous orbit and 10 tons in LEO like for example the unmanned HOPE shuttle.

The H2A series have numerous variant planned. The 202 version has two strap-on SRB-A solid boosters, shorter and fatter than the SRBs used on the old H-2 rocket. The core stages are uprated versions of the H-2 core, with the same 4.0 meter diameter and a larger propellant load. Both stages use uprated Mitsubishi liquid hydrogen/ liquid oxygen engines. A retirement date of 2023 has been announced for H2A.

The H2B is a 2-stage rocket using liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellant and has four strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRB-A) powered by polibutadiene. The first stage is made of two liquid rocket engines (LE-7A) in the first-stage, instead of one for the H2A. It has four SRB-As attached to the body, while the standard version of H2A had two SRB-As. In addition, the H2B's first-stage body was expanded to 5.2 m in diameter from 4 m of H2A's one. The total length of the first stage has been extended by 1 m from that of H2A. Compared to the H2A, the H2B payload capacity to GTO has roughly been doubled to approx. 8 tons. The rocket was jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and JAXA.

The H3 should be ready in 2021. The new rocket will use commercially available components and a fuselage that can be mass produced, lowering launch costs to about half of the current price tag of approximately ¥10 billion (US$89 million). The new, more powerful engine will give the H-III a payload capacity to GTO of up to 6.5 tons -- 60% more than the H-IIA.

N launches


# Launch id Payload Launch date Type Status/Comment (orbit in perigee x apogee x inc. x period)
1, N-1 75082 ETS 1 09 Sep 1975 N-1  
2, N-2 76019 Ume 1 22 Feb 1976 N-1  
3, N-3 77014 ETS 2 23 Feb 1977 N-1  
4, N-4 78018 Ume 2 16 Feb 1978 N-1  
5, N-5 79009 Ayame 1 6 Feb 1979 N-1 Failure: 3rd stage collided with the payload
6, N-6 80018 Ayame 2 22 Feb 1980 N-1  
7, N-7 81012 ETS 4 11 Feb 1981 N-2 (3 stage)  
8, N-8 81076 GMS 2 11 Aug 1981 N-2 (3 stage)  
9, N-9 82087 ETS 3 3 Sep 1982 N-1  
10, N-10 83006 Sakura 2A 4 Feb 1983 N-2 (3 stage)  
11, N-11 83081 Sakura 2B 5 Aug 1983 N-2 (3 stage)  
12, N-12 84005 Yuri 2A 23 Jan 1984 N-2 (3 stage)  
13, N-13 84080 GMS 3 3 Aug 1984 N-2 (3 stage)  
14, N-14 86016 Yuri 2B 12 Feb 1986 N-2 (3 stage)  
15, N-15 87018 Momo 1A 19 Feb 1987 N-2 (2 stage)  

Notes: All launches from Tanegashima.

H1 launches


# Launch id Payload Launch date Type Status/Comment (orbit in perigee x apogee x inc. x period)
1, H-15 86061 A: Ajisai
B: Fuji 1A
12 Aug 1986 H-1 (2 st,9 SO)  
2, H-17 87070 ETS 5 27 Aug 1987 H-1 (3 st,9 SO)  
3, H-18 88012 Sakura 3A 19 Feb 1988 H-1 (3 st,9 SO)  
4, H-19 88086 Sakura 3B 16 Sep 1988 H-1 (3 st,9 SO)  
5, H-20 89070 GMS 4 5 Sep 1989 H-1 (3 st,6 SO)  
6, H-21 90013 A: Momo 1B
B: Debut
C: Fuji 1B
7 Feb 1990 H-1 (2 st,9 SO)  
7, H-22 90077 Yuri 3A 28 Aug 1990 H-1 (3 st,9 SO)  
8, H-23 91060 Yuri 3B 25 Aug 1991 H-1 (3 st,9 SO)  
9, H-24 92007 JERS 1 11 Feb 1992 H-1 (2 st,9 SO)  

Notes: All launches from Tanegashima. In type column: st = stages, SO = strap-ons

H2 launches


# Launch id Payload Launch date Type Status/Comment (orbit in perigee x apogee x inc. x period)
1 94007 A: Ryusei
B: Myojo
3 Feb 1994 at 22:20 UT H2  
2 94056 ETS 6 28 Aug 1994 H2 [LAPS]  
3 95011 A: SFU
B: GMS 5
18 Mar 1995 at 08:01 UT H2 (2 SSB)  
4 96046 A: Adeos 1
B: Fuji 2
17 Aug 1996 at 01:53 UT H2 (2 SSB)  
5 97074 A: TRMM
B: ETS 7
27 Nov 1997 at 21:27 UT H2  
6 98011 Comets 21 Feb 1998 at 07:55 UT H2 [LAPS] partial failure: the second burn of the top stage failed (after 44 s); maybe caused by a combustion chamber leak
7 n/a Mtsat 1 15 Nov 1999 ar 07:29 UT H2 failure: failed 4 minutes after launch, on the first stage. A fuel leak might be the cause. The H2 rocket was abandonned after this failure
8 01038 A: LRE
B: VEP 2
29 Aug 2001 at 07:00 UT H2A 202 The test payload VEP 2 intentionally did not separate from the 2nd stage.
9 02003 A: MDS 1
B: Dash
VEP 3
4 Feb 2002 at 02:45 UT H2A 2024  
10 02042 A: Users
B: DRTS W
10 Sep 2002 at 08:20 UT H2A 2024  
11 02056 A: Adeos 2
B: Fedsat
C: Weos
D: Micro Labsat
14 Dec 2002 at 01:31 UT H2A 202  
12 03009 A: IGS 1A
B: IGS 1B
28 Mar 2003 at 01:27 UT H2A 2024  
13 n/a A: IGS 2A
B: IGS 2B
29 Nov 2003 at 04:33 UT H2A 2024 Failure: failed to jetison one of the 2 SRBs
14 05006 Mtsat 1R 26 Feb 2005 at 09-25 UT H2A 2022 250 x 36000 km x 28.5°
Performed a third ignition for the second stage as an experiment
15 06002 Alos 24 Jan 2006 at 01:33 UT H2A 2022  
16 06004 Mtsat 2 18 Feb 2006 at 06:27 UT H2A 2024 248 x 35680 km x 28.5°
17 06037 IGS 3A 11 Sep 2006 at 04:35 UT H2A 202  
18 06059 ETS 8 18 Dec 2006 at 06:32 UT H2A 204  
19 07005 A: IGS 3B
B: IGS 3V
24 Feb 2007 at 04:41 UT H2A 2024  
20 07039 A: Kaguya (Selenological and Engineering Explorer, SELENE)
B: Rsat
C: Vrad
14 Sep 2007 at 01:31 UT H2A Moon probe
Object B will be released from A once in lunar orbit, and object C will be later released from B!
21 08007 Winds 23 Feb 2008 at 8:55 UT H2A 2024 115 x 314 km x 30.1°
22 09002 A: Gosat 1
B: Prism
C: SDS 1
D: Kagayaki
E: Sohla 1
F: Spritesat
G: Stars
H: KKS 1
23 Jan 2009 at 03:54 UT H2A  
23 09048 HTV 1 (cargo to ISS) 10 Sep 2009 at 17:02 UT H2B 185 x 301 km x 51.6°
24 09066 IGS 5A 28 Nov 2009 at 01:21 UT H2A  
25 10020 A: Negai Star
B: Waseda Sat 2
C: KSat
D: "Akatsuki" (Planet-C)
E: Ikaros
F: Unitec 1
20 May 2010 at 21:58 UT H2A Objects D, E and F delivered in Solar Orbit
26 10045 QZSS 1 11 Sep 2010 at 11:17 UT H2A 202  
27 11003 HTV 2 (Kounotori 2) 23 Jan 2011 at H2B 304  
28 11050 IGS 5B 23 Sep 2011 at 04:36 UT H2A 202  
29 11075 IGS 7A 12 Dec 2011 at 01:21 UT H2A 202  
30 12025 A: GCOM W1
B: Kompsat 3
C: SDS 4
D: Horyu 2
17 May 2012 at 16:39 UT H2A 202  
31 12038 HTV 3 (Kounotori 3) 21 Jul 2012 at 02:06 UT H2B 304  
32 13002 A: IGS 8A
B: IGS 8B
27 Jan 2013 at 04:40 UT H2A 202  
33 13040 HTV 4 (Kounotori 4) 3 Aug 2013 at 19:48 UT H2B  
34 14009 A: Shindaisat
B: ITF 1
C: GPM
D: Opusat
E: Teikyosat 3
F: Invader
G: Ksat 2
H: Stars 2
27 Feb 2014 at 18:37 UT H2A  
35 14029 A: Alos 2
B: Uniform 1
C: Socrates 1
D: Rising 2
E: Sprout
24 May 2014 at 03:05 UT H2A 629 x 647 km x 97.9°
36 14060 GMS 8 7 Oct 2014 at 05:16 UT H2A  
37 14076 A: Hayabusa 2
B: Shin'en-2
C: Despatch
D: Procyon
E: Mascot
3 Dec 2014 at 04:22 UT H2A deep space mission
38 15004 IGS Radar Spare 1 Feb 2015 at 01:21 UT H2A 202 490 x 511 km x 97.5°
39 15015 IGS optical 5 26 Mar 2015 at 01:21 UT H2A 202  
40 15038 HTV 5
To be later deployed from ISS:
Flock 2b 1 to 14
Serpens (Brasil)
S-cube (Brasil)
Gomx 3
AAusat 5
19 Aug 2015 at 11:50 UT H2B 304  
41 15068 Telstar 12V 24 Nov 2015 at 06:50 UT H2A upgrade First launch of a privately-owned satellite
42 16012 A: Astro Hsat_astro_h
B: Chubusat 2
C: Chubusat 3
D: Horyu 4
17 Feb 2016 at 08:45 UT H2A  
43 16064 GMS 9 2 Nov 2016 at 06:20 UT H2A  
44 16076 HTV 6 (Kounotori 6) 9 Dec 2016 at 13:26 UT H2B  
45 17005 DSN 2 24 Jan 2017 at 07:44 UT H2A 204  
46 17015 IGS Radar 5 17 Mar 2017 at 01:20 UT H2A  
47 17028 QZSS 2 1 Jun 2017 at 00:17 UT H2A  
48 17048 QZSS 3 19 Aug 2017 at 05:29 UT H2A 204  
49 17062 QZSS 4 9 Oct 2017 at 22:01 UT H2A 202  
50 17082 A: GCOM C
B: SLATS
23 Dec 2017 at 01:26 UT H2A  
51 18021 IGS optical 6 27 Feb 2018 at 04:34 UT H2A 202  

Notes: All launches from Tanegashima.

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