Thu, May 18, 2006
Aims To Boost Struggling Commercial Program
Japanese space agency
JAXA has had a tough time lately. From the curious travails of the Hayabusa probe
earlier this year -- scientists won't really know if
the probe was a success or not until it lands back on earth in
2010, two years later than planned -- to the agency's current problems with its proposed
SST, JAXA could use a break right now.
To that end, the agency says it is willing to give prospective
launch customers a break, as well... by offering a free ride for
their satellite payloads onboard its newest rocket. As long as
those payloads don't exceed 110 pounds, JAXA officials say private
satellites are welcome to piggyback onboard its H-2A rockets
launching government satellites.
Such a program could mean big savings for anyone interested in
launching a satellite on the cheap. According to an expert with
Japan's University Space Engineering Consortium cited by Japan's
Yomiuri newspaper, it typically costs about $5,000 per pound to
launch a satellite.
The program's goal is to "expand the country's research into
space development," and to "cultivate new human resources in the
space arena," JAXA said in a news release this week.
First launched in August 2001, the H-2A was seen as a way for
Japan to compete against the United States and the European Union
for commercial satellite business. That program suffered a major
setback in 2003, however, when two satellites failed to reach orbit
due to a defect in the rocket's booster system
-- and the rocket has yet to fly a commercial
The first H-2A to fly under the program is scheduled to liftoff
in 2008, according to an agency spokesperson. The satellite would
piggyback onto an H-2A launching Japan's government-sponsored GOSAT
satellite, designed to monitor greenhouse gas emissions in the
JAXA is accepting proposals from interested parties from May 11
to August 31. So far... there haven't been any takers.
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