January 12, 2009 / 6:09 AM / 10 years ago

Japan rocket to launch South Korean satellite

SEOUL, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said on Monday it had received an order from South Korea’s aerospace agency to launch one if its satellites, marking the first time a Japanese rocket will carry a foreign satellite.

The launch of South Korea’s KOMPSAT-3 satellite, designed to take images of the Earth, will be in Japan in 2011 or 2012, Mitsubishi Heavy (7011.T), the country’s biggest machinery maker, said in a statement.

The deal was announced during a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso to South Korea.

South Korea, which is trying to develop its own rockets, has previously used a private firm in Russia for a satellite launch.

Mitsubishi Heavy, which took over the production and management of the H2-A rocket from Japan’s space agency in 2007, has only launched government satellites. Out of the 14 launches, 13 have succeeded, Mitsubishi said.

Japan’s space programme has struggled after launch failures. In 2003, it had to destroy an H2-A rocket carrying two spy satellites.

A spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy in Tokyo declined to comment on how much the firm charged for the launch. Japan’s Jiji news agency had reported last year that the launch may cost around 9 billion yen ($99.91 million). [ID:nT253509] ($1=90.08 Yen) (Reporting by Yoko Kubota and Jon Herskovitz)

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