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Japan will test-launch its newly developed H-IIA rocket in February without its scheduled payload on board, government sources said Tuesday.

The sources said the National Space Development Agency of Japan decided not to mount the European Space Agency’s Artemis communications satellite due to uncertainty about the safety of the rocket’s LE-7A engine, the sources said.

The upcoming launch will be purely an experiment with a dummy satellite weighing 2 tons, the same weight as the Artemis, the sources said.

The launch is expected to be criticized as a waste of money because the H-IIA has been specifically developed to launch satellites, and each rocket costs 9 billion yen.

Engine vibration problems and the risk of explosion are said to necessitate the test launch.

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