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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 February, 2005, 12:27 GMT
Launch takes Japan back to space
Rocket launch
Japan wants to revive the reputation of the H-2A rocket
Japan has successfully launched a rocket into space, 15 months after its last attempt ended in a huge fireball.

The 53m (174ft) H-2A rocket, with the word Nippon - or Japan - painted on its side, blasted off and placed a satellite in orbit.

Launches were put on hold in November 2003, when controllers destroyed a rocket and its load of spy satellites after a booster failed to detach.

Correspondents say the space programme now faces stiff competition from China.

They say space agency Jaxa wants to revive the reputation of the H-2A, the centrepiece of the programme, and show that Japan remains a viable contender.


The orange and white rocket roared up into a cloudy sky from the launch site, on the remote southern island of Tanegashima, at 1825 on Saturday (0925 GMT).

Around 40 minutes later it put a multi-purpose weather and navigation satellite in orbit.

Live TV showed mission scientists and engineers applauding and shaking hands in the control room.

The take-off had been delayed for two days by weather, and then for another hour because of a fault in the data transmission system.

The lost November 2003 payload of two spy satellites was intended to monitor North Korea.

Japan's embarrassment was compounded by the fact that China had put a man into space just weeks earlier, a feat which Tokyo has never attempted.

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04 Feb 02 |  Science/Nature

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