January 14, 2009

Mitsubishi Heavy Inks First Foreign Space Deal

On Tuesday, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan said it hopes to gain more orders for its H-2A rocket after sealing its first foreign customer deal with South Korea.

The company seeks to compete with European Arianespace, and Sea Launch, a division of Boeing.

Prior to the deal with Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), Mitsubishi Heavy had only secured business within Japanese borders.

"With this order as a start, we hope to receive more satellite launch orders," said a Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman.

KARI is working towards launching its Korea Multipurpose Satellite-3 (KOMPSAT-3) to monitor oceans, agriculture, and to gather geographical data.

Mitsubishi Heavy did not give any details about the contract.

The company has been working to lower its price of $90 million per launch to the $60-70 million mark to be competitive with its overseas rivals.

According to the Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman, the company hopes to launch KOMPSAT-3 with other satellites to share the cost among multiple customers.
Japan privatized space launches in 2002, and gave Mitsubishi Heavy control over the project.

The company will launch Japan's Ibuki satellite, which will monitor greenhouse gas emissions, later this month.

KOMPSAT-3 is expected to be launched in 2011 at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's space center on Tanegashima Island.


Image Caption: Launch of H-IIA Flight 11. A rocket takes off in the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan. Courtesy Wikipedia


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