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21 May 2024

Japan delays high-speed Internet satellite

By Agencies


Japan's space agency said on Wednesday it was delaying the launch of a satellite aimed at providing high-speed Internet access across Asia due to a technical problem with its rocket.


Japan was slated on Friday to launch the Kazuna, an experimental satellite looking at how to bring broadband-speed service across Asia even when terrestrial infrastructure goes down.


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) said it discovered a problem with the gas jet thruster for its H-2A launch rocket on Tuesday at its station on the southern island of Tanegashima.


"The new launch date will be announced as soon as it is determined," a Jaxa statement said.


The satellite was jointly developed by Jaxa and industrial giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, which is handling the launch for the second time since the H-2A was privatised in April 2007.


Japan, like developing Asian powers China and India, has been stepping up its space operations. Japan has set a goal of sending an astronaut to the moon by 2020.


Japan faced an embarrassing failure in November 2003, when it had to destroy a rocket carrying a spy satellite 10 minutes after lift-off because a booster failed to separate.


However, Japan's first lunar probe, Kaguya, was successfully launched last September, releasing two baby satellites which will be used to study the gravity fields of the moon among other projects.


The 55-billion-yen ($500 million; Dh1.8 billion) lunar probe is the most extensive mission to investigate the moon since the US Apollo in the 1960s and 1970s.


Astronaut Takao Doi is also set to travel on a United States shuttle in March to the International Space Station to set up a scientific testing room for Japan. (AFP)