Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Landing strip selected for Japan's HOPE-X spaceplane
Posted: Feb. 25, 2000

Artist's concept of the HOPE-X vehicle in space. Photo: NASDA
The National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) has reached an agreement with the Republic of Kiribati to prepare and use the Christmas Island as a landing facility for the H-2 Orbiting Plane-Experimental, or HOPE-X.

Officials say work should start on facilities, equipment and infrastructure for the planned High-Speed Flight Demonstration (HSFD) expected to be conducted in 2001.

In announcing the agreement, NASDA said the land of Christmas Island is to be borrowed as the HOPE-X landing site for 20 years. Reevaluation will take place after 7, 12 and 16 years.

NASDA will have priority in use of the existing Aeon Airstrip, will borrow for use in establishing storage and other facilities around the strip and building height restrictions and danger zones shall be determined based on HOPE-X range safety requirements.

To prepare the landing site's infrastructure, a water jetty will be created, along with repairing the Cassidy Airport currently in use and widening the A1 road which connects Cassidy Airport and Aeon Airstrip

NASDA says it will establish a liaison office on the Christmas Island to interact between the Kiribati Government and the space agency shall assign a coordinator and environmental protection officer.

"With commencement of the project, environmental impact to be held to a minimum," the Japanese space agency said.

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