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Japan launches H-2A rocket carrying S. Korean satellite

(Xinhua)

11:20, May 18, 2012

TOKYO, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Japan launched an H-2A rocket carrying satellites including a South Korean one into the space early Friday morning, local media reported.

The H-2A rocket lifted off from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in southwestern Kagoshima Prefecture around 1:40 a.m. Friday.

Since 2005, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries had carried out the 7th to 20th H-2A rocket launches successfully. But Friday's event, the 21st one, marked the rocket's first ever mission to carry a foreign satellite.

The Arirang 3 multi-purpose observation satellite, developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, has an optical camera system for the collection and analysis of geographical data, according to Kyodo News report.

The move was seen as a commercial attempt to make Japan's space industry profitable, and the successful launch on Friday added to its competitiveness in the global rocket market, where nations including Russia, the United States and China are vying for a bigger share.

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