Japan, the world's third-largest economy, yesterday ventured into the commercial satellite launch business by successfully sending a South Korean satellite into orbit, achieving the nation's long-cherished dream of joining the elite club of commercial satellite launching nations.
The H-2A rocket built by Japanese multinational conglomerate, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries blasted off yesterday with four satellites from a small island, Tanegashima, south of Kyushu.
The South Korean remote sensing satellite Arirang-3 was built by the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) carrying a high resolution imager. Other satellites simultaneously launched include Japan's Shizuku, one with the world's largest revolving antenna, and two other smaller satellites.
According to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), all the four satellites entered orbit as planned. The Korean satellite was successfully separated after 16 minutes of the launch and the second one, Shizuku was released about 23 minutes later.
This is Japan's 15th consecutive successful launch of its main large-scale indigenous rocket. JAXA secured the South Korean satellite launch deal by bidding a lower price than the Russian competitor.
With this launch, Japan hopes to grab a slice of the global commercial satellite launch market valued at around $4.3 billion, with its H-2A rocket amid tough competition from Russia, European Space Agency (ESA), the US, China and India.