Japanese company Canon is known for making amazing optical products, but the company has its hands in a bit of everything.
For Canon, its ambitions stretch a bit beyond the limit of the sky and on into space.
In a publicly announced ventured with IHI Aerospace, Canon is going to outer space and this time it’s not just to take pictures.
The two companies announced plans to build the first private-sector rocket launch site in Japan.
The goal is to have the site constructed by 2021, a bold plan by any stretch.
Currently, Canon and IHI Aerospace are looking for domestic partners in Japan and hope to enlist as many partners as possible in an effort to demonstrate Japanese private-industry know-how.
The private launch site would allow Japan to nourish its nascent rocket industry, a sector that is seeing quick growth in the United States and elsewhere.
Canon, for its part, stresses that the construction of such a site would be huge leap forward for private industry efforts to develop aerospace in Japan.
In many countries, aerospace research and development tends to be a largely government-funded activity because of the huge costs involved and long timeframes for a return on investment.
This paradigm is rapidly changing as companies like SpaceX and others explore rockets that are reusable and geared toward commercial rather than scientific or government use.
The Canon and IHI site will specialize in small rockets. The venture was kickstarted last year with inputs from Shimizu Corporation and the Development Bank of Japan.
The site of the rocket launch base will be the town of Kushimoto in Wakayama Prefecture which is located at the very southernmost point of the Japanese island of Honshu. The partners still need to conduct geological surveys before finalizing the site but this is their first choice among the locations scouted in Japan.