The fifth M-V launches with the ASTRO-EII spacecraft.
Function All-solid small orbital launch vehicle
Manufacturer Nissan Motors[1] (-2000)
IHI AEROSPACE (-2006)[2]
Country of origin Japan
Height 30.8 m (101 ft)
Diameter 2.5 m (8.2 ft)
Mass 137,500 - 139,000 kg (303,100 - 306,000 lb)
Stages 3 or 4
Payload to LEO 1,800 kg (3,900 lb)
Payload to
Polar LEO
1,300 kg (2,800 lb)
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites Kagoshima
Total launches 7 (M-V: 4, M-V KM: 3)
Successes 6 (M-V: 3, M-V KM: 3)
Failures 1 (M-V)
First flight M-V: 10 February 2000
M-V KM: 12 February 1997
Last flight M-V: 22 September 2006
M-V KM: 9 May 2003
Notable payloads HALCA, Nozomi,
ASTRO-E, Hayabusa
Suzaku, AKARI
First stage - M-14
Engines 1 Solid
Thrust 3,780.345 kN (849,855 lbf)
Specific impulse 246 sec
Burn time 46 seconds
Fuel Solid
Second stage - M-24
Engines 1 Solid
Thrust 1,245.287 kN (279,952 lbf)
Specific impulse 203 sec
Burn time 71 seconds
Fuel Solid
Third stage - M-34
Engines 1 Solid
Thrust 294 kN (66,093 lbf)
Specific impulse 301 sec
Burn time 102 seconds
Fuel Solid
Fourth stage (M-V KM) - KM-V1
Engines 1 Solid
Thrust 51.9 kN (11,668 lbf)
Specific impulse 298 sec
Burn time 73 seconds
Fuel Solid

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 meters high, 2.5 meters in diameter, and weighs about 140 tonnes (310,000 pounds). It was capable of launching a satellite weighing 1.8 tonnes (2 short tons) 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 February 10, 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 July 10, 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.

M-V flights

M-V rocket with the ASTRO-E satellite
Date (UTC) Flight Payload Result
February 12, 1997 04:50:00 M-V-1 Muses B (HALCA) Success
July 3, 1998 18:12:00 M-V-3 Planet B (Nozomi) Success
February 10, 2000 01:30:00 M-V-4 ASTRO-E Failure
May 9, 2003 04:29:25 M-V-5 Muses C (Hayabusa) Success
July 10, 2005 03:30:00 M-V-6 ASTRO-E2 (Suzaku) Success
February 21, 2006 21:28:00 M-V-8 ASTRO-F (Akari)
SSP (solar sail sub payload)
SSP failed to open completely
September 22, 2006 21:36 M-V-7 Solar-B (Hinode)
SSSat (solar sail)
SSSat failed after launch

Following program

Main article: Epsilon (rocket)

A follow on to the M-V, called the Epsilon Rocket,[3] featured 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 $70 million launch cost of a M-V.[4]

The first launch, of a small scientific satellite SPRINT-A, took place in September 2013. The initial launches will be of a two-stage version, of Epsilon, with up to a 500 kilogram LEO payload capability.[5]

Potential 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 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 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."[6]

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."[7]

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.[8] The M-V is comparable in performance to the LGM-118 Peacekeeper ICBM.

Comparable solid fuel rockets

See also


  1. "Introduction to Rocket Science and Engineering". google.co.uk. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  2. "Projects&Products". IHI AEROSPACE. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
  3. "Epsilon launch vehicle". JAXA. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  4. "Asteroid probe, rocket get nod from Japanese panel". Spaceflight Now. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  5. "Interview: Yasuhiro Morita, Project Manager, Epsilon Launch Vehicle". JAXA. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  6. Karl Schoenberger (July 11, 2003). "Japan ponders nuclear weapons". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on June 25, 2004.
  7. Chester Dawson (28 October 2011). "In Japan, Provocative Case for Staying Nuclear". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  8. 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, 1800kg 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
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