A version of this article appears in the May 5 edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology. While the smallest version of Japan’s H-IIA space launcher costs around ¥10 billion ($100 million) a shot, Space Exploration Technologies charges $56.5 million for launches by its comparable Falcon 9 rocket. That problem was obvious to the Japanese space sector before the U.S. company appeared on the scene: H-IIA and its larger sibling, H-IIB, cost too much to operate. And the problem ...

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