Bloomberg News

Mitsubishi Heavy Makes Japan’s First Commercial Satellite Launch

May 17, 2012

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency made their first commercial satellite launch today in a challenge to European and Russian services.

A Korea Aerospace Research Institute satellite was onboard an H-2A rocket that blasted off at 1:39 a.m. from the Tanegashima Space Center, which is on a Pacific Ocean island off the southern coast of mainland Japan, according to a statement from JAXA on its website. The rocket also carried a Japanese satellite.

Japan has begun to compete with Evry, France-based Arianespace, the world’s largest commercial satellite launcher, and Russia’s Proton to find new revenue for its space program. The nation launches as many as three H-2A rockets a year under a program run by Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Heavy since 2007.

“We’re very happy with the launch of a South Korean satellite as Japan’s first commercial payload,” Motohisa Furukawa, Japan’s minister for space development, said in a faxed statement. “We support securing more opportunities for our satellite-launch service.”

Today’s takeoff was Japan’s 52nd rocket launch since the program began in 1975. It was the 15th H-2A launch in a row not to suffer a fault, giving the model a 95.2 percent success rate, according to the statement. An H-2A rocket failed in 2002.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Cooper in Tokyo at; Kiyotaka Matsuda in Tokyo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at

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