Japan will attempt to put a commercial satellite into space Friday as it jumps into the Europe- and Russia-dominated world of contract rocket launches.
An H-IIA rocket is to put South Korea’s KOMPSAT-3, an Earth observation satellite developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, into orbit, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency official said.
The H-IIA is the workhorse of JAXA and has been launched 20 times since 2001. The launches have been run by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries since they were privatized in 2007, JAXA spokesman Masashi Okada said. JAXA’s past six H-IIA launches were related to government missions.
“If this commercial launch proves a success, we hope to build customers’ trust and get the next order to enter the business dominated by Europe’s Ariane and Russia’s Platon rockets,” said Kenichi Nakamura of MHI.
The South Korean institute made a bid of several billion yen for the launch, “the cheapest price in an international auction,” the Sankei Shimbun reported, citing the institute. MHI declined to confirm the report.
Liftoff is scheduled for 1:39 a.m. Friday from Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture.
The rocket will also carry JAXA’s Shizuku satellite, which will be used to monitor global ocean currents, officials said.