A ‘spaceport’ to be built in a small town in northern Japan

TAIKI, Hokkaido – The municipal government in this small town in northern Japan is aiming high and plans to complete a “Hokkaido Spaceport” rocket launch facility by fiscal 2025.

The complex is the centerpiece of this community of 5,400 attempts to transform itself into a “space city”.

Taiki’s local government partnered with six private companies – including Sapporo-based gas company Air Water Hokkaido Inc. and space company Interstellar Technologies Inc. – to launch Space Cotan Co. in the city on April 20. The new company is headed by Yoshinori Odagiri, a 58-year-old former employee of All Nippon Airways Co. and former chairman of low-cost carrier AirAsia Japan Co. The company has a capital of 76 million yen (around 700,000 $).

Space Cotan plans to build a rocket-capable complex that Interstellar Technologies is developing to carry satellites by fiscal 2023, near the risky company’s rocket test site. Space Cotan is also planning a second larger complex by fiscal 2025 to meet demand from several companies to launch rockets. In addition, the company is looking to extend the Taiki Multipurpose Aerospace Park runway from 300 meters to 1,300 meters, and aims to create an additional 3,000 meter runway.

The municipal government estimates that the total construction cost of the two launch complexes will reach 5 billion yen (approximately $ 46 million). He plans to use the donations, including the deductible “hometown corporate tax” contributions to pay half the cost, and cover the rest by applying for regional revitalization grants. Space Cotan will also play a role in assisting with procurement.

At an April 21 press conference in Sapporo, Taiki Mayor Masato Sakamori explained the history of the city’s space initiatives, which have spanned more than 30 years. Space Cotan President Odagiri said: “Taiki City is a world class port; we will make it a spaceport recognized by the world ”, and noted the geographic superiority of the city and the high percentage of clear skies.

Taiki’s involvement in space began in 1984, with a program to build a large-scale aerospace industry base in Hokkaido, run by Hokkaido-Tohoku Development Finance Public Corp. (now the Development Bank of Japan Inc.). It became a core project candidate in the Hokkaido Strategic Plan of 1987, and the municipal government worked on projects, including sealing a partnership with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and establishing the Aerospace Park. versatile from Taiki. In 2019, Interstellar Technologies launched a small observation rocket from the city, making it Japan’s first rocket developed only by a private company to reach space.

(Japanese original by Hitoshi Suzuki, Obihiro local office)

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