Launch Vehicles




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Operation End


Operation End


Operation End


Operation End


Operation End


Operation End

In 1970, the Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science of the University of Tokyo, the predecessor of ISAS, succeeded in launching Japan's first artificial satellite OHSUMI with the L (Lambda) rocket.

Since then, the M rocket series developed for the launch of scientific satellites has undergone successive improvements over 25 years.

The first generation M-4S was a four-stage type and kept its attitude by tail fin and spinning. Orbit injection was made by gravity turn.

The second generation M-3C was a three-stage type, with enhanced second and third stages. The installation of the TVC (Thrust Vector Control) and side-jet systems on the second stage greatly improved orbit-injection accuracy. The extension of the first stage of the M-3C increased the payload capacity of the M-3H version.

In the third-generation M-3S, the introduction of the TVC system to the first stage improved orbit-injection accuracy and eased launching limitations. For the fourth generation M-3SII, we redeveloped the entire rocket, except for the first stage, to upgrade overall performance.

For the fifth generation M-V, we put together all our technologies cultivated throughout the M series rocket's history and succeeded in developing the significant large-scale launcher in order to meet the demands of space science.

M-V rockets launched four earth-orbiting observational satellites as well as the Mars explorer NOZOMI and the asteroid explorer HAYABUSA. For their role in successful missions including planetary exploration, these all-solid-propellant launch vehicles were highly praised as “the best solid-propellant rockets in the world.”

After the M-V-7 in September 2006, JAXA discontinued the M-V series for various reasons, however, and started developing a new solid-propellant rocket "Epsilon" which is smaller, higher functioning and better suited for launching small satellites.

History of Launch Vehicles

Launch Vehicles graph