JAPAN'S J1 solid-propellant launch vehicle will make its maiden flight from Tanegashima on 7 February. The two-stage version of the new satellite launcher will carry the Hyflex hypersonics flight-experiment space plane on a sub-orbital flight.

A later three-stage J1, built by the National Space Development Agency, will be able to place 870kg payloads into 250km (155 miles), 30¼ inclination circular orbits. It consists of a first stage, which uses the solid-rocket booster of the H2 satellite launcher, and two upper stages from the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science's retired M3S2 booster. Later versions with strap-on motors could increase the J1's capability to 2,000kg to low-Earth orbit.

The 1,040kg Hyflex will be deployed at an altitude of 110km, at a speed of 3.9 km/s. It will make a Mach 14.4 re-entry, providing Japan with its first lifting-body flight experience and allowing the country to assess thermal protection systems.

The Hyflex will splash down for recovery 1,300km down-range from Tanegashima.

Source: Flight International