M-V launching ASTRO-E2.jpeg
The fifth M-V launches with the ASTRO-EII spacecraft.
FunctionAll-solid small orbital launch vehicle
ManufacturerNissan Motors[1] (-2000)
IHI AEROSPACE (-2006)[2]
Country of originJapan
Height30.8 m (101 ft)
Diameter2.5 m (8 ft 2 in)
Mass137,500–139,000 kg (303,100–306,400 lb)
Stages3 or 4
Payload to low Earth orbit
Mass1,800 kg (4,000 lb)
Payload to polar LEO
Mass1,300 kg (2,900 lb)
Launch history
Launch sitesUchinoura M-V
Total launches7 (M-V: 4, M-V KM: 3)
Success(es)6 (M-V: 3, M-V KM: 3)
Failure(s)1 (M-V)
First flightM-V: 10 February 2000
M-V KM: 12 February 1997
Last flightM-V: 22 September 2006
M-V KM: 9 May 2003
People or cargo transportedHALCA, Nozomi,
ASTRO-E, Hayabusa
Suzaku, AKARI
First stage – M-14
Powered by1 solid
Maximum thrust3,780.345 kN (849,855 lbf)
Specific impulse246 s (2.41 km/s)
Burn time46 seconds
Second stage – M-24
Powered by1 solid
Maximum thrust1,245.287 kN (279,952 lbf)
Specific impulse203 s (1.99 km/s)
Burn time71 seconds
Third stage – M-34
Powered by1 solid
Maximum thrust294 kN (66,000 lbf)
Specific impulse301 s (2.95 km/s)
Burn time102 seconds
Fourth stage (M-V KM) – KM-V1
Powered by1 solid
Maximum thrust51.9 kN (11,700 lbf)
Specific impulse298 s (2.92 km/s)
Burn time73 seconds

The M-V rocket, also called M-5 or Mu-5, was a Japanese solid-fuel rocket designed to launch scientific satellites. It was a member of the Mu family of rockets. The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) began developing the M-V in 1990 at a cost of 15 billion yen. It has three stages and is 30.7 m (101 ft) high, 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) in diameter, and weighs about 140,000 kg (310,000 lb). It was capable of launching a satellite weighing 1,800 kg (4,000 lb) into an orbit as high as 250 km (160 mi).

The first M-V rocket launched the HALCA radio astronomy satellite in 1997, and the second the Nozomi Mars explorer in July 1998. The third rocket attempted to launch the Astro-E X-ray satellite on 10 February 2000 but failed. ISAS recovered from this setback and launched Hayabusa to 25143 Itokawa in 2003. The following M-V launch was the scientific Astro-E2 satellite, a replacement for Astro-E, which took place on 10 July 2005. The final launch was that of the Hinode (SOLAR-B) spacecraft, along with the SSSat microsat and a nanosatellite, HIT-SAT, on 22 September 2006.

Launch outcomes

  •   Failure
  •   Success

Launch history

Flight No. Date and time, UTC Rocket,
Launch site Payload Payload
Orbit Customer Launch
M-V-1 12 February 1997
M-V Uchinoura M-V MUSES-B (HALCA)[3] Success
M-V-3 3 July 1998
M-V Uchinoura M-V PLANET-B (Nozomi) Success
M-V-4 10 February 2000
M-V Uchinoura M-V ASTRO-E Failure
M-V-5 9 May 2003
M-V Uchinoura M-V MUSES-C (Hayabusa) Success
M-V-6 10 July 2005
M-V Uchinoura M-V ASTRO-E2 (Suzaku) Success
M-V-8 21 February 2006
M-V Uchinoura M-V ASTRO-F (Akari)
CUTE-1.7 + APD
SSP (solar sail sub payload)
SSP failed to open completely
M-V-7 22 September 2006
M-V Uchinoura M-V SOLAR-B (Hinode)
SSSat (solar sail)
SSSat failed after launch
M-V rocket with the ASTRO-E satellite.
M-V rocket with the ASTRO-E satellite.

Following program

Main article: Epsilon (rocket)

A follow on to the M-V, called the Epsilon Rocket,[4] features a lower 1.2 tonne LEO payload capability. The development aim is to reduce costs, primarily by using the H-IIA solid rocket booster as the first stage and through shorter launch preparation time. Epsilon launches are intended to cost much less than the US$70 million launch cost of a M-V.[5]

The first launch, of a small scientific satellite SPRINT-A (Hisaki), took place in September 2013. The initial launches will be of a two-stage version,[citation needed] of Epsilon, with up to a 500 kilogram LEO payload capability.[6]

Potential as an intercontinental ballistic missile

Solid fuel rockets are the design of choice for military applications as they can remain in storage for long periods, and then reliably launch at short notice.

Lawmakers made national security arguments for keeping Japan's solid-fuel rocket technology alive after ISAS was merged into JAXA, which also has the H-IIA liquid-fuelled rocket, in 2003. The ISAS director of external affairs, Yasunori Matogawa, said, "It seems the hard-line national security proponents in parliament are increasing their influence, and they aren't getting much criticism... I think we’re moving into a very dangerous period. When you consider the current environment and the threat from North Korea, it's scary".[7]

Toshiyuki Shikata, a Tokyo Metropolitan Government adviser and former lieutenant general, claimed that part of the rationale for the fifth M-V Hayabusa mission was that the reentry and landing of its return capsule demonstrated "that Japan's ballistic missile capability is credible".[8]

At a technical level the M-V design could be weaponised quickly (as an Intercontinental ballistic missile, since only payload and guidance have to be changed) although this would be politically unlikely.[9] The M-V is comparable in performance to the LGM-118 Peacekeeper ICBM.

Comparable solid fuel rockets

Main article: Comparison of solid-fuelled orbital launch systems

See also


  1. ^ Travis S. Taylor (2009). Introduction to Rocket Science and Engineering. CRC Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-4200-7529-8.
  2. ^ "Projects&Products". IHI AEROSPACE. Archived from the original on 6 April 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
  3. ^ Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency | JAXA. "HALCA > Launch Vehicle". Institute of Space and Astronautical Science. Archived from the original on 2 July 2005.
  4. ^ "Epsilon launch vehicle". JAXA. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  5. ^ "Asteroid probe, rocket get nod from Japanese panel". Spaceflight Now. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  6. ^ "Interview: Yasuhiro Morita, Project Manager, Epsilon Launch Vehicle". JAXA. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  7. ^ Karl Schoenberger (11 July 2003). "Japan ponders nuclear weapons". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on 25 June 2004.
  8. ^ Chester Dawson (28 October 2011). "In Japan, Provocative Case for Staying Nuclear". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  9. ^ William E. Rapp (January 2004). "Paths Diverging? The Next Decade in the US-Japan Security Alliance" (PDF). Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College: 82. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 119. Japan has the weapons grade plutonium, technology for weaponization, and delivery means in the M-V-5 rocket, indigenous, solid fueled, 1800 kg payload capacity, to go nuclear very rapidly should it choose. This dramatic step, however, would require a complete loss of faith in the American nuclear umbrella ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)