Canon joining the modern Japanese space race, although not in the way you might expect


posted Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 6:00 AM EST


Nikon has had a long relationship with space travel and exploration and continues to have an important place on the International Space Station. Canon wants to get in on the action now. However, unlike Nikon, Canon isn’t concerned with sending cameras into space, but are instead helping to fund the creation of a “low-cost ‘mini-rocket’ for future satellite launches.” Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that engineers from Cannon have joined a team dedicated to designing and building the “world’s smallest satellite launch vehicle.”

The mini-rocket is planned to be just over 20 inches in diameter (52 centimeters) and around 30 feet (under 10 meters) in length. The three-stage rocket will be an upgrade to the existing two-stage SS-520 rocket. Canon’s role is reportedly helping the team choose components and help make electronic components and instruments more compact. Additionally, the new rocket is being designed to be much more economical to produce than similar rockets, hopefully less than a tenth of the cost when it launches early next year from the Uchinoura Space Center in Japan.

Canon is part of the team working on creating a lower-cost alternative to the SS-520 seen in the chart above. Image credit: Wikipedia

Japan is something of an anomaly in the space industry due to the continued large influence of the government, some 90% of the space industry’s sales in Japan are done by the government. In many parts of the world, the private sector has taken on a primary role in space exploration and rocket development. The Japanese government is supporting the private team, hoping that this project will signal a shift toward the private sector playing a larger role in Japan’s modern space race. You can read more about this latest development here.

(Seen via The Digital Picture)