Japan’s next-generation H3 rocket will take flight for the first time on Tuesday night (February 14), and you’ll be able to watch the action live.
The H3 is scheduled to launch on its debut mission from the Tanegashima Space Center on Tuesday at 8:37 pm EST (0137 GMT and 10:37 am Japan Standard Time on February 15).
Watch the liftoff live here on Space.com, courtesy of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or directly via JAXA (opens in new tab). Coverage is expected to begin around 20:00 EST (01:00 GMT on Feb 15th).
Related: The History of Rockets
Tuesday’s liftoff will be a big moment for JAXA, which has been working with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for a decade to develop the new launcher and has high expectations for it.
“The H3 rocket is Japan’s new flagship rocket,” JAXA wrote in a description of the vehicle. (opens in new tab).
“It is being developed as a successor to the H-IIA rocket currently in operation so that Japan can continue to have a means of transporting it into space,” the agency added in another explanation of the H3. (opens in new tab). “Looking to the next 20 years, we are aiming for a world of operation that maintains the industrial base by steadily launching around six satellites each year. To that end, private commercial satellite orders from the launch services market, as well as government satellites, are essential.”
The H3 is 187 feet or 207 feet tall (57 or 63 meters), depending on whether it is flying with a “short” or “long” payload fairing. The rocket is capable of delivering “4 tons or more” to a 310-mile (500-kilometer) solar synchronous orbit and “6.5 tons or more” to a geostationary transfer orbit, according to JAXA’s specification page. (opens in new tab).
While Tuesday’s mission is a test flight for the H3, the new rocket will carry an operational payload – the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-3 (ALOS-3), also known as DAICHI-3.
If all goes according to plan on Tuesday, H3 will deliver ALOS-3 to a sun-synchronous orbit. The 3-tonne satellite is capable of resolving features as small as 2.6 feet (0.8 m) wide on Earth’s surface from its 416-mile-high (669 km) final perch, according to officials at the JAXA.
Satellite data will help in disaster monitoring and response, as well as in several other fields.
“The observed data from ALOS-3 is expected to lead to progress in various fields due to its unique imaging capabilities; it will make a significant contribution to updating global geospatial information and research and application for monitoring the coastal/vegetated environment,” he said. . JAXA wrote in a description of the satellite (opens in new tab).
Tuesday’s mission will be the second of the year for a Japanese rocket. An H-IIA successfully launched Japan’s IGS Radar 7 surveillance satellite on January 25.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).