Japanese team plans Asia’s first commercial spaceport by 2021

The owner of Japan’s largest airline and a Tokyo based conglomerate are aiming to complete Asia’s first private sector spaceport by the end of 2021, according to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review.

ANA Holdings, the owner of All Nippon Airways, and the Marubeni general trading company will be joined by Airbus Japan, satellite broadcaster Sky Perfect and real estate company Mitsui Fudosan in the Spaceport Japan consortium.  

The plan is to build a "horizontal" spaceport, in which planes would take off from a 3km-long runway, although a site has not yet been chosen.

The alternative is a vertical facility in which the cargo is delivered by rocket. The latter is exemplified by the pioneering Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, built by US company Rocket Lab.

This facility put its third rocket into space on Sunday, 11 November (pictured). After it went off successfully, founder Peter Beck declared that it was "game on" for private sector commercial space delivery companies.

The UK has also announced plans to build a series of space stations, both horizontal and vertical, beginning with the A’Mhoine Peninsula on the northern coast of Scotland.

In July, Virgin Galactic announced a plan to partner with two Italian aerospace companies to build a commercial spaceport in Italy, and Spanish start-up PDL Space has lobbied for a European spaceport to be built in Spain.

A new era of commercial space haulage has been made possible by advances in rocket technology and also by the decreasing size of their payloads.

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket is tiny by comparison with early Soyuz and Apollo designs, but still succeeded in placing six satellites in orbit.

Image: Space invaders: Rocket Lab’s 11 November launch (Rocket Lab)

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