First commercial launch for Japan's H-IIA rocket platform

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Telstar 12 VANTAGE lifting off from the Tanegashima Space Center(Credit: JAXA)

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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have announced that the Telesat Telstar 12 VANTAGE satellite today made a successful launch from the Yoshinobu launch pad at the Tanegashima Space Center. The broadcast and telecommunication satellite lifted off at 3:50 pm JST atop the upgraded H-IIA Launch vehicle No. 29 (H-IIA F29). The launch was the first using the H-IIA upgraded second stage and the first commercial launch for the platform.

JAXA says that launch took place under fine weather with a NE wind of 19 mph (31 km/h) and a temperature of 22º C (72º F). The agnecy confirmed that the satellite separated from the second stage about 4 hours and 27 minutes after liftoff as it headed into geosynchronous orbit.

Today's launch is the 28th successful liftoff of Japan's flagship launch vehicle. The new upgrade allowed the second stage to fire three times on the way to geostationary orbit instead of sending Telstar 12 into a slower transfer orbit. The Telstar 12 VANTAGE is a Canadian communications satellite that replaces the previous Telstar 12 and will provide communications services between the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, the South Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and North Sea.

"We sincerely thank Telesat for their confidence in our activities, and we also would like to express our gratitude to all of the teams involved, including Telesat, JAXA, Airbus Defence and Space, and MHI, for the significant contributions," said MHI's Vice President & Senior General Manager Naohiko Abe. "This is our first dedicated commercial launch of H-IIA. This successful launch is a huge step for H-IIA to enter the commercial launch services market MHI intends to accelerate more aggressive marketing for H-IIA satellite launch services both in Japan and abroad, and also, to continue playing the key role in the Japanese space industry from now on."

Although it is the first commercial launch for the launch system, the H-IIA first flew in 2001 and has been used to launch numerous satellites, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory, the first solar-powered spacecraft, and the Hayabasa 2 spacecraft, just to name a few.

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