Japan Rocket Launches Its First Commercial Satellite

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Japan Rocket Launches Its First Commercial Satellite
A Japanese rocket lifted off Tuesday with the national space programme's first commercial satellite as Tokyo tries to enter a business dominated by European and Russian companies.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries oversaw the launch from Tanegashima Space Center in southwest Japan.

The launch of the H-IIA rocket was originally scheduled at 3:23 pm (0623 GMT), but was delayed by roughly 30 minutes because a small ship unexpectedly came near the space station.

The rocket successful launched at 3:50 pm, carrying the TELSTAR 12V communications and broadcasting satellite for Canadian satellite operator Telesat.

It was scheduled to release the payload into orbit about 4 1/2 hours after liftoff, the space agency said.

Japan wants to become a major player in the satellite launching business. It has tried to improve the H-IIA rocket to cut the cost of each launch to make its programme competitive.

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