The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is moving ahead with testing of its new H3 rocket as it seeks to replace its aging flagship H-IIA launch vehicle.

The first stage of the 5.2-meter-diameter H3 launcher was unveiled to press at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Tobishima plant in Aichi Prefecture Jan. 24.

The core stage is being transported to Tanegashima Space center for a series of tests beginning in February as part of preparations for eventual launch.

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