Mitsubishi Heavy Industries successfully launched an H-IIA rocket carrying Japan’s information-gathering satellite Optical-8, in a social media announcement on Friday (12 January 2024).

This marks the 48th launch of Japan’s primary launch vehicle since 2001, maintaining an impressive success rate of 97.92%, as the rocket is developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

In November 2023, Japan’s government pledged $6.6bn (¥1trn) towards its space sector in a new JAXA fund. 

The fund is part of a Japanese ten year plan to promote the country’s space economy.

A spokesperson for the government clarified that a $1.6bn had already been set aside for JAXA in Japan’s latest supplementary budget. 

JAXA fell victim to a cyberattack on 29 November and disclosed that the cyberattack exploited vulnerabilities in the agency’s network equipment.

Despite Japan’s plans to retire the H-IIA following two additional launches and replace it with the H3, the transition has faced challenges. JAXA’s initial test launch of the H3 encountered difficulties in March of the previous year.

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By GlobalData

The H3’s second test launch is scheduled for February 15 2024.

In 2022, the space economy was valued at approximately $450bn by research company GlobalData which predicts it could be worth between $760bn and $1trn by 2030. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence: Space Economy 2023 report found that the industry had seen a recent influx of startups and privately owned companies.

Investor interest, clear market gaps and technological advancements were the main factors credited to this.