The government decided Wednesday to postpone the launch of two of four domestically developed reconnaissance satellites by five months until July 2003, due to delays in parts procurement.

The first two spy satellites will be launched around February 2003 while the other two will be launched around July 2003.

“Although there will be a delay of a few months, it is only because some things, such as the procurement of parts, took more time than expected,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said at a news conference. “It is not because of some special reason.” The government had initially planned to launch all satellites — two optical satellites and two radar satellites with long-range photographic capabilities — in fiscal 2002.

Under the new plan, the government will launch one of each in February and follow with the remaining pair later, the officials said.

The government decided to construct its own information-gathering satellites after North Korea launched a rocket in 1998, part of which flew over Japan before plunging into the Pacific Ocean.

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