The new rocket, to be called the H-2B, will be launched in 2008 and carry a payload of up to 8 tons, compared with the payload of 4 to 6 tons for the H-2A, Kyodo News Agency said, citing unidentified officials at Japan’s science and technology ministry.
The main mission will be to carry the H-2 Transfer Vehicle, or HTV, to the International Space Station without relying on the U.S. space shuttle, the report said. The HTV will carry food, clothes and scientific equipment to the ISS.
The H-2B will have two engines, instead of the H-2A’s one, and four booster rockets.
The government’s Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. have been developing the new launch vehicle since 2004 on a budget of around 20 billion yen, Kyodo said…