TOKYO, Sept 14 Japan's first new rocket in 12
years lifted off on Saturday, after two setbacks last month,
keeping alive hopes that the country may eventually be able to
enter the growing, multi-billion dollar satellite launch
The rocket lifted off at 2.00 p.m. (0500GMT) carrying a
telescope for observation of the solar system from space.
The three-stage rocket named Epsilon is about half the size
of Japan's existing H2A rocket and has been touted as a new,
A previous launch on Aug. 27 was halted 19 seconds before
countdown because of a computer glitch.
The successful launch moved Japan a step closer to its goal
of cashing in on the international satellite launch industry.
The rocket's smaller size and a computer system that allows
it to perform its own systems checks means it can be assembled
quickly, enabling operators to cut personnel and equipment
Launch control can be carried out using conventional desktop
computers, reducing costs and making the launches more mobile
since they could take place at more sites.
U.S. companies had a monopoly on the commercial launch
business 30 years ago, but their hold has steadily declined,
with most of the business going to the France-based Arianespace,
a public-private European partnership that in 2012 reported
revenue of 1.3 billion euros.
The market has been shaken up by the recent entry of the
California-based Space Exploration Technologies, known as
Russia also markets a variety of rockets for space launches.
Its workhorse Soyuz spaceships have been the only vehicles
delivering crews to the ISS since the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet
was retired from service in 2011.
India and China also provide launch services to some extent.
(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Michael Perry)