Japan to develop new large successor rocket to H2-A

Japan plans to develop a large successor rocket to its current mainstay H-2A launch vehicle, government sources said Friday.

The government's seven-member advisory body on space policy, called the Committee on National Space Policy, plans to make an official decision on the development of the new rocket by the end of this month, the sources said.

If the plan is adopted, it would be the first document of a mainstay rocket since 1996 when Japan started development of the H-2A rocket.

The panel is considering asking Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to develop the new rocket, the sources said.

Mitsubishi Heavy developed the H-2A rocket, together with the now-defunct National Space Development Agency of Japan and its successor, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The government plans to rely on the private sector's cost-cutting efforts to reduce satellite launch costs and maintain Japan's competitiveness in the international satellite-launch market, the sources said.

The advisory body is led by Yoshiyuki Kasai, chairman of Central Japan Railway Co., operator of the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train line.