Japan’s space agency to offer free ride for private satellites

Japan’s space agency to offer free ride for private satellites

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May 11, 2006 – Privately developed small satellites in Japan may be launched by the H-2A rocket free of charge through its space agency from fiscal 2008, Japanese local media said on May 11. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will launch one or more private satellites, weighing one to 50 kilograms, along with its own larger satellites at least once a year, the agency said on May 11.

The programme is designed to “promote research activities that will lead to the expansion of the use of space and promote satellite development for the purpose of educating people studying in the field,” the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported. The first private satellites will be launched with JAXA’s gases observing satellite (GOSAT) in fiscal 2008. JAXA starts receiving applications for the first free launches from May 11 to Aug. 31.

The expense to launch a one-kilogram private satellite can run from 3 million yen (27,000 U.S. dollars) to 4 million yen (36,000 dollars), the paper cited experts as saying. The free ride offer is expected to encourage students in the aerospace field.