Top executives of Arianespace, a European commercial rocket consortium, said Thursday in Tokyo that the firm has signed two new contracts with Japanese clients to put a telecommunications satellite and an experimental deployable antenna in orbit.

Jean-Marie Luton, Arianespace’s chairman and chief executive officer, told a press conference that his firm has signed a contract with Japan Satellite Corp. to launch its JCSAT-8 satellite in late 2001.

With these latest deals, Ariane rockets have been selected to put 17 of Japan’s 23 commercial satellites into orbit. Luton referred to Arianespace as “the most reliable launch system” in the world’s commercial satellite market.

The other contract signed was with the National Space Development Agency to launch its experimental LDREX spacecraft — a half-scale mock deployable antenna for NASDA’s planned technological satellite, ETS-8.