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Mitsubishi Targeting Foreign Satellite Launch Orders

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 25, 2008
Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries expects to win its first orders for commercial satellite launches with its H-2A rocket from foreign companies, its president said in an interview published Monday.

The industrial giant is in the final stages of negotiations with US and South Korean telecommunications firms and hopes to launch their satellites by February 2009, the Nikkei business daily quoted Kazuo Tsukuda as saying.

"Confidence in the technology of the H-2A rocket has improved, and it has become a product that can compete in the global market," he said, without naming potential customers.

Mitsubishi Heavy was chosen by the Japanese government in 2002 to operate large-scale launch vehicles following the privatisation of the project, which it took full control of last year.

It is now seeking orders from governments and private companies around the world, but with only limited success so far.

Its satellite launches so far have all been for the Japanese government, including one on Saturday carrying an experimental satellite aimed at providing high-speed Internet access across Asia.

So far it only has one satellite launch order for the next fiscal year to March 2009 -- for a project sponsored by the Japanese government to observe greenhouse gases.

Mitsubishi said last month that it aimed to slash the launch cost of the H-2A rocket as it competes with rivals such as the European consortium Arianespace and Boeing-led Sea Launch to put satellites into space.

Japan, like China and India, has been stepping up its space operations. It suffered a high-profile setback in 2003 when it was forced to destroy a rocket carrying a spy satellite after lift-off because a booster failed to separate.

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Japan successfully launches high-speed Internet satellite
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 23, 2008
Japan successfully launched Saturday an experimental satellite aimed at providing high-speed Internet access across Asia, even when terrestrial infrastructure goes down, the space agency said.

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