For the first time, a Japanese rocket has carried a foreign satellite into space.
The H-2A Launch Vehicle No. 21, which blasted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture at 1:39 a.m. on May 18, has separated from South Korea's Arirang-3 multipurpose satellite and Japan's Shizuku global observation satellite.
This is the first overseas order Japan has won for a satellite launch. Launching foreign satellites on a commercial basis had long been a goal of Japan's rocket development program.
Officials of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which undertook the project, said they hope the latest success provides momentum for the company’s launch business.
The Arirang-3 is equipped with high-performance imaging devices to photograph the ground surface in detail.
The Shizuku satellite of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is designed to observe the planet's water migrations to help improve the accuracy of heavy rain and typhoon forecasts.
Along with the Arirang-3 and the Shizuku, the rocket launched two smaller satellites, one from the Kyushu Institute of Technology and the other from JAXA.
The latest launch is the 21st for an H-2A rocket and the 15th straight successful one.
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