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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 15:08 GMT
Japan blasts satellite into space
H-2A rocket lifts off from its launch pad on the island of Tanegashima on Saturday 23 February, 2008
The launch is part of an ambitious space programme
Japan's space agency has launched an experimental communications satellite designed to enable super high-speed data transmission in remote areas.

An H-2A rocket carrying the satellite Kizuna was launched from the southern island of Tanegashima, about 1,000km (620 miles) south of Tokyo.

A ship entering restricted waters near the launch site slightly delayed the lift-off.

The launch had been postponed by a week because of a mechanical fault.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) said the satellite had separated from the rocket and successfully entered its intended orbit, 283km from Earth.

The agency said that with Kizuna, it hoped to enable data transmission of up to 1.2 gigabits per second at a low cost across Japan and in 19 different locations in South-East Asia.

Kizuna is also known as the Wideband Inter-Networking Engineering Test and Demonstration Satellite, or Winds.

Hi-definition TV broadcast

Jaxa developed Kizuna with another government agency, the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

About 100 experiments will be conducted via the satellite, including a test broadcast of the next generation of high-definition television.

Jaxa spokeswoman Asaka Hagiwara said the total cost of the development, launch and operation of the satellite was estimated at 52bn yen (US$480m; 240m).

Saturday's launch is part of an ambitious space programme which sent Japan's first lunar probe into orbit around the moon last September.

Jaxa has said it wants to send astronauts to the moon by 2025, although Japan has not yet attempted manned space flight.

Rocket carrying the satellite blasts off into space

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26 Feb 05 |  Science/Nature
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29 Nov 03 |  Asia-Pacific

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