HELSINKI — The first launches of the new Japanese H3 launch vehicle are being delayed by issues with two components of the rocket’s main engine, the country’s space agency confirms.
The Japanese space agency JAXA told SpaceNews that problems were found with the new LE-9 engine’s combustion chamber and turbopump.
“Fatigue fracture surfaces were confirmed in the apertural area of the combustion chamber inner wall and the FTP blade of the turbo pump,” according to a JAXA spokesperson.
JAXA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the prime contractor for the H3, were aiming to hold the inaugural launch by the end of 2020 before the discovery of issues in May.
However engineers testing the LE-9 cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engine for the H3 first stage encountered a potential issue back in May.
This led JAXA to announce in September that the first flight would slip to some time in Japanese fiscal year 2021, beginning April 1, 2021. The rocket’s second launch likewise slipped to Japanese fiscal year 2022.
JAXA conducted tests to isolate the cause of the combustion chamber issue and are moving ahead with remedies. “Cooling for the chamber will be strengthened and the combustion sequence ...