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The Forefront of Space Science

A Reusable Sounding Rocket to Innovate Sounding Rocket Experiments
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Future space-transportation systems and contribution to the hydrogen society

I believe that the ultimate goal for future space-transportation systems is frequent access to space. This will be realized by developing a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) vehicle, i.e., a single-stage to carry passengers and cargo to earth orbit, and by operating it every day or multiple times a day. An indispensable element to realize this is a high-performance propulsion system based on liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The acquisition of technologies to handle cryogenic liquid propellant for reusable rocket systems is vital for building future space-transportation systems. The realization of reusable sounding vehicles will open the way to the acquisition of these indispensable technologies common to future high-performance, space-transportation systems. In addition, producing a reusable space system and putting it into practical use as a sounding rocket will help global society understand the merit of “reuse,Ewhich encourages our research towards the next step.

The study of hydrogen-propelled rockets has many issues that can be shared with global energy and environmental efforts. A clean energy cycle and production/storage/safeguard of hydrogen are all related to building an infrastructure for the hydrogen energy society. R&D of the reusable sounding vehicle leads to the solution of hydrogen technological issues. I believe that, through the technological innovations brought by handling hydrogen under the extreme environment of a rocket, and the spinning off of these innovations into building an infrastructure for the hydrogen-energy society, we are linked to society and can contribute to its progress.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Wind tunnel tests to determine fuselage shape
The environment of the rocket’s flight is simulated, using the air current produced in a wind tunnel, and the rocket’s shape is studied based on the measured aerodynamic force against fuselage.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Visualization test of liquid hydrogen/nitrogen sloshing
Liquid propellant behavior and changes of pressure and temperature in the tank during the flight are studied.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Ideal picture of future space-transportation systems
Rockets carrying passengers and cargo leave the spaceport in succession bound for spaceE

(Satoshi NONAKA)

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