Japan's 1st Private - Sector Rocket Launch Site

Japan's 1st private-sector rocket launch site

A groundbreaking ceremony has been held for what will be Japan's first ever rocket launch site to be operated by a private sector company.

Space One is building the launch site in Kushimoto town, Wakayama Prefecture.

Space One is a joint venture funded by four companies -- Canon Electronics, IHI Aerospace, Shimizu Corporation and Development Bank of Japan.

About 100 people took part in the ceremony on Saturday, and prayed for the safety of the construction work.

Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka and senior officials of related companies were among the attendees.

A party to celebrate the occasion was held later, where the future launch site name, "Space Port Ki-i," was announced.

Many private firms in Japan are entering the space business, as demand for small-sized rockets, used for observation and other purposes, is increasing.

Space One has been developing small rockets measuring 18 meters long and weighing 23 tons, to be used for launching satellites for its customers. The company says it hopes to conduct its first launch in fiscal 2021 and increase the number launches to 20 a year by the mid-2020s.

Chairman & CEO Fujio Mitarai of Canon -- the parent company of Canon Electronics -- says he hopes the company will be able to safely conduct launches for various customers using Japan's technology.