Japan Launches First Commercial Satellite

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that they have launched Japan’s first dedicated commercial satellite with an HII-A rocket. Carrying the Telstar 12 Vantage broadcast and telecommunications satellite developed by Ottawa, Canada-based Telesat, the H-IIA launch vehicle took off from the Yoshinobu launch pad at Tanegashima Space Center. This was the first time the H-IIA upgraded second stage has been deployed and the first commercial launch for the rocket.

Upgrades to the second stage of the H-IIA platform include an advanced turbopump cooling system that will use less of the oxidizer supply and changes to the attitude control system to allow evaporating propellant to be used as a means of thrust when coasting.

A proven launch platform, the H-II rocket family had previously carried out successful launches in February, March, and August of this year-carrying payloads of Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) reconnaissance spacecraft into orbit and completing the Kounotri 5 (HTV-5) resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). November’s Telestar 12 Vantage mission is Japan’s fourth and final launch for the year. Overall, this was the 28th successful launch for Japan’s flagship rocket.

Commissioned by Telesat in September 2013, the Telstar 12 Vantage satellite was manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space. Based on Airbus’ Eurostar 3000 satellite bus, the Telstar 12 Vantage weighs 4,900 kilograms (10,800 pounds) and is destined to operate from a central orbital location of 15-degrees West. It will provide coverage for high-traffic zones such as the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the North Sea, the Caribbean, and the South Atlantic.

By marrying high throughput spot beams with conventional regional beams, the Telstar 12 Vantage allows greater flexibility in network design. Current Ku-band terminal equipment are fully backward compatible with the Telstar 12 Vantage.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga commented that with this successful launch demonstrating the capabilities of his nation’s rocket engineering, he expects Japan to receive more launch orders from both domestic and overseas private sector customers.

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