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Tokyo (RIA Novosti) Oct 31, 2012
Japan is planning to launch its new light-class Epsilon carrier rocket in summer 2013, national space agency JAXA said.
JAXA's goal is to have an inexpensive rocket to launch compact low-cost satellites into orbit.
It will replace the M-5 rocket, a similar vehicle that carried out seven successful space missions between 1997 and 2006.
The three-stage solid-fuel launcher is designed to lift more than 2,600 pounds to low Earth orbit. The M-5 rocket could haul about 4,000 pounds to a similar orbit.
However, the launch of the Epsilon will cost about $48 million compared to the M-5, which carried a $70 million price tag for each launch.
Epsilon designers are reusing technology from the M-5 and H-2A rockets to cut costs. The Epsilon's first stage is based on the H-2A's solid rocket booster, while the second and third stages will use solid-fueled engines from the M-5's upper stages.
JAXA is planning to spend about $250 million to finish the development of the new launch vehicle.
Source: RIA Novosti
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