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Arianespace to launch two Japanese satellites

Europe’s commercial satellite launching company Arianespace has won contracts to send up two satellites for Japan’s JSAT Corporation. The launch contracts are Arianespace’s 20th and 21st for Japanese commercial satellites, the company said in a statement issued in Tokyo, adding the European company had previously sent up four satellites for JSAT, the country’s leading satellite operator. The contracts concern JSAT’s JCSAT-9 digital communications satellite and a future satellite, Arianespace said.

“Arianespace, which has been chosen to launch 21 of 29 Japanese commercial satellites, is very proud of its role in developing satellite communications in Japan over the last 17 years,” Arianespace chief executive Jean-Yves Le Gall was quoted as saying in the statement.

An Ariane 5 rocket is due to blast off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana in late 2005, the company said. Japan hopes to use its domestically-developed H2-A rocket to become a player in the commercial satellite launch market, but its plans have been thrown into doubt by its failure last November to put two spy satellites into orbit.