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JAXA’s Epsilon 3 Launches its First Commercial Satellite

By | January 19, 2018

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched a commercial Earth Observation (EO) satellite, Ansaro 2, on Jan. 18, using an Epsilon 3 solid fuel rocket. The Epsilon 3 carried the small radar satellite into orbit from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture around 6 a.m. JST (4 p.m. EST).

NEC Corporation and the Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer (USEF) jointly developed Asnaro 2, which hosts an X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload. This is the first launch for which Epsilon 3 orbited a commercially operated satellite.

At just 24 m (78 ft), Epsilon is able to fly more frequently with cheaper operation costs than JAXA’s H 2A and H 2B rockets, JAXA said. According to the Japan Times, JAXA hopes the successful Asnaro 2 mission will boost launch orders for future smallsats.