Honda Corporation recently published a plan to expand production, demonstrating a desire to manufacture … space rockets. And now the company and representatives of the Japanese government have shared additional information about these plans: It turns out that the company already has a prototype rocket engine.
Honda’s shift from cars to mobility
Honda was founded in 1946 and initially produced motorcycles. In 1963, it began producing cars. Today, it is a multinational corporation with more than 200,000 employees worldwide, and ranks among the ten largest car manufacturers in the world. Lately the company has started to see itself less as a car company and more as a mobility company, says Keiji Otsu, President of the corporation’s R&D department.
The company’s divisions already produce a wide range of products – cars, motorcycles, robots and jets. As a result, the company’s portfolio includes various technologies related to engines, navigation and control systems. Otsu says he has led the development of engines for several vehicles from Honda.
Not like SpaceX – based on realism
Today, Honda sees space as a growth market, and is going to explore how the company can use its existing know-how to build its contribution to space exploration.
Among the company’s plans is to realize the “dreams and potential” of people around the world with its core technologies. To do so, Honda plans to collaborate with the Japanese Space Agency – JAXA. Earlier this year, it was announced that JAXA and Honda were building an energy system for future space colonies.
A group of young engineers within the company expressed interest in building rockets back in 2019. As a result, the company committed resources to build a rocket engine in late 2019. Its prototype has already been built and test launches are taking place. Very little is reported on the exact nature of these launches.
According to company engineer Atsushi Ogawa, the company has made incredible progress in just two years. At a private briefing, he showed a black and white video of a test run of the engine. The video showed Mach disks in the supersonic flow of the rocket’s exhaust. The company has expressed that it is not yet ready to release technical details about the engine, its fuel and lift capacity.
Honda plans to continue developing the engine until 2025-2026, with the goal of building a rocket capable of launching a ton of payload into low-Earth orbit. It will then decide whether to continue the project, completing development and opening up the commercial direction of cargo delivery to orbit, or discontinue it.