Among JAXA's major space transportation development programs, the one with the most assured future is the Epsilon, a solid-propellant rocket that is now well into the detailed design phase and is due for a first launch in 2013. It is not hard to see why the Epsilon is going ahead. The point of the exercise is to save money—quite a lot of money, since the predecessor solid-propellant launcher, the M-V, was woefully costly. And the Epsilon's typical task, launching Earth-observation ...

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