Japan’s H-IIA rocket will carry a European data-transmission satellite on its maiden launch, scheduled for next February, Science and Technology Agency chief Hirofumi Nakasone said Friday.

Nakasone told a news conference that the No. 1 H-IIA, an advanced version of the H-II rocket developed by the National Space Development Agency of Japan, will launch the Advanced Relay and Technology Mission Satellite (ARTEMIS) of the European Space Agency.

The launch date was set after the ESA completed a review of the launch schedule following the crash of an H-II last November.

The H-IIA rocket will also carry a satellite that will conduct experiments on high-speed re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, NASDA said.

The satellite was developed by the Education Ministry’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science.

Nakasone meanwhile confirmed Thursday’s report that U.S. commercial satellite maker Hughes Space and Communications Co. has canceled its contract for launches with Rocket System Corp., a NASDA agent, in light of the failure of the previous two H-II launches. He said the cancellation was “regrettable.”

Rocket System signed a contract with Hughes in 1996 to launch 10 satellites aboard H-IIAs.

Nakasone, however, pledged that Japan would continue to develop the H-IIA.

The H-II was first launched in 1994. It was successfully launched five straight times until 1997, but the launches in 1998 and 1999 both failed.