The major heavy machinery manufacturer plans to modify and expand its welding facility for the rocket's fuel tanks at its main plant in
The firm is introducing a new friction welding technology to make the H-IIB lighter.
With a diameter of 5 meters and a length of 56 meters, the larger H-IIB is expected to offer double the launch capability of the H-IIA. It can carry two satellites at the same time or a large transfer vehicle to resupply the International Space Station.
In anticipation of this, Mitsubishi Heavy consolidated its rocket manufacturing operations earlier this fiscal year. The H-IIB would be the first rocket in which the firm would be involved from the development stage onward.
While launching the H-IIA costs about 10 billion yen, the H-IIB will be able to launch two satellites for an estimated 13 billion yen. This will reduce per-satellite launch costs to the level of US and European firms, such as Arianespace.
Mitsubishi Heavy hopes to win orders for launching commercial satellites, which is a new area for the firm.
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