Japan's small Epsilon launcher lofts nine small satellites
(09 Nov 2021) Rocket: Epsilon 5; Payload: Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Unit 2 (RAISE-2, eight smallsats); Date: 9 November 2021, 0055 UTC; Launch site: Uchinoura Space Center, Japan. The satellites were deployed into approx. 550 km x 572 km x 97.57 degrees Sun-synchronous orbit.
Initially planned for October, the launch was postponed three times due to technical and other reasons.
The rocket, which measures 2.6 meters in diameter and 26 meters in length and has a mass of 96 tons, carried nine satellites, the most for a mission using an Epsilon.
Epsilon 5 released the primary payload, Rapid Innovative Payload Demonstration Satellite No. 2 (RAISE-2), about 52 minutes after launch and the remaining eight were released one hour later, according to JAXA. They comprised the ultra-small satellites HIBARI, Z-Sat, DRUMS, and TeikyoSat-4 as well as the cubesats ASTERISC, ARICA, NanoDragon, and KOSEN-1.
RAISE-2, built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp., will test six different space technologies, including a small sensor called MARIN designed to gauge the position, altitude and velocity of orbiting satellites.
One of the other satellites, Debris Removal Unprecedented Micro Satellite (DRUMS), is a demonstration craft designed to collect space debris developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.
Another satellite was jointly developed by 10 Japanese technical institutes and will showcase a new technology that allows natural radio waves emitted by Jupiter to be surveyed.
JAXA last launched an Epsilon in January 2019, sending seven satellites into space.
The Epsilon series uses solid fuel, which takes less time to load on rockets than liquid propellant. Its artificial intelligence technology is designed to cut labour and launch costs, according to JAXA.
Development costs for the Epsilon-5 totalled 5.8 billion yen (US$51 million).