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Japan launches H-2A
Posted: Wed, Aug 29, 2001, 11:31 AM ET (1531 GMT)
H-2A launch on maiden flight (NASDA) The Japanese space agency NASDA successfully launched an H-2A booster on its maiden flight early Wednesday. The H-2A lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan at 3:00 am EDT (0700 GMT, 1600 local time) and placed into orbit a test payload. The launch was delayed for three hours because of problems connecting a mobile launch platform with ground equipment. NASDA officials confirmed at a press conference 90 minutes after liftoff that the booster had placed the second stage and the Vehicle Evaluation Payload 2 (VEP2) test satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The VEP2 will remain attached to the second stage until the two reenter the Earth's atmosphere in approximately one year. The launch is a major success for Japan, which had not successfully launched a spacecraft in three years. The H-2A is designed to be a more reliable, less expensive version of the H-2, a Japanese launch vehicle retired after back-to-back failures in February 1998 and November 1999. The H-2A's improvements include more powerful second-stage and solid-propellent strap-on engines and a simplified first-stage engine.
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