Japan has the world’s most punctual rockets


At precisely 3:50 p.m. on November 24, 2015, a Japanese H-IIA rocket blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center into the clear blue sky. The rocket’s missions—to bring a broadcast and telecommunications satellite for Canada’s Telesat into orbit around the earth—was a resounding success.

The success of a rocket launch usually comes down to timing. As Earth moves through space, its position relative to other planets and the International Space Station (ISS) constantly changes. To send exploratory probes to planets like Venus or dock with the ISS, the time window for rocket launches is extremely narrow. If the original launch is scrubbed, the next launch window could be months away.

Japan leads the world in successfully-timed rocket launches. Factoring in its latest success, 94.1% of Japanese rockets launched on schedule. In the United States and Europe, those figures are at 75% or below. This reputation for timeliness, in combination with leading-edge manufacturing technology, careful preparations and an overall successful launch rate of 97.1%, clearly demonstrate the strengths of Japan’s globally renowned aerospace program.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is working to increase Japan’s share of the aerospace market, in cooperation with the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). METI has promoted deregulations based on feedback from international partners, such as allowing foreign engineers from satellite manufacturers to operate large equipment like cranes.

Over the next ten years, METI predicts that emerging nations will launch up to four times as many satellites than at present. As more countries develop their aerospace utilization programs, the competition for rocket orders will also intensify. The Government of Japan is actively involved in efforts to bolster the global competitiveness of Japan’s aerospace industry to ensure its continued success.

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