JAXA promotes research on turbo pumps that feed fuel, inducers that are a crucial part of the pumps, as well as combustors and nozzles used to improve engine performance, with the purpose of developing rocket engines capable of stable launching and having high reliability.
Space vehicles are typically launched with disposable transportation systems - rockets that were used only once. JAXA also employs disposable rockets as a means of transportation, but it has been conducting research on reusable transportation systems, in order to reduce costs and eventually makes possible space travel for ordinary people.
The new systems being considered by JAXA include fully reusable spaceplanes, which have wings similar to those of airplanes and can take off in a horizontal position from a runway, shuttling between the Earth and space. JAXA has developed the idea of a spaceplane that still needs the help of a booster rocket when it is launched into space. The National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan (NAL) and the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), which have now been incorporated into JAXA, have conducted four experiments using the H-II Orbiting Plane Experimental vehicle (HOPE-X), as part of the space plane development effort. Among them were the Orbital Re-entry Experiment (OREX), performed in order to examine reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere from orbit; the Hypersonic Flight Experiment (HYFLEX), performed to obtain data on aerodynamic heating and aerodynamic characteristics at hypersonic speeds over Mach 10; and the Automatic Landing Experiment (ALFLEX), performed to enable safe landing after a return to Earth.
In addition, we have conducted High-Speed Flight Demonstrations (HSFD) I and II with experimental vehicles, including one that is one quarter the size of HOPE-X, in order to demonstrate and accumulate data on technologies related to transonic flight at speeds of around Mach 1.