Photo/IllutrationAn image of a small rocket that Space One plans to launch (Provided by Space One Co.)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

WAKAYAMA--A joint venture on March 26 announced plans to build Japan’s first private-sector rocket launching site that is expected to bring financial benefits to the local economy.

Space One Co., funded by four companies, including Canon Electronics Inc. and Shimizu Corp., said construction will begin by the end of this year at the tip of the Kii Peninsula in Kushimoto, Wakayama Prefecture.

The location, facing the Pacific Ocean, is the southernmost point of the main Honshu island.

Space One plans to launch its first rocket from the site in fiscal 2021 and intends to send 20 rockets into space annually by the mid-2020s.

Each rocket is expected to be around 18 meters long and will carry a small satellite weighing from several kilograms to 150 kilograms.

The company chose the Kushimoto site because it is expected to be uninhabited within a 1-kilometer radius, and there are no islands or land on the south side.

Facilities for assembling and storing the company’s rockets and other purposes will be built on the site.

If all goes as planned, Space One will be able to launch a rocket within 12 months of signing a contract. The company said its goal is to become “the world’s fastest and most frequent rocket-launching” business.

“We will solidly advance our project to meet local people’s expectations,” Shinichiro Ota, president and representative director of Space One, said at a March 26 news conference held at the Wakayama prefectural office.

Wakayama Prefecture estimates the economic ripple effect from the project would be 67 billion yen ($606 million) in 10 years. The prefecture decided to provide 3.2 billion yen in an interest-free loan to the enterprise.

“This is the ultimate treasure,” Kushimoto Mayor Katsumasa Tashima said. “I want to think seriously about ways to connect the project to the local economy.”