Japanese H2 may be used as Artemis launcher for Europe

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Tim Furniss/LONDON

A DEAL WHICH could include the free launch of the European Space Agency's (ESA) troubled Artemis communications-technology satellite aboard a Japanese H2 booster is being negotiated between the European and Japanese space agencies. The deal would be part of a wide-ranging agreement between the two agencies. Japan would also use the Artemis as part of the agreement, which is expected to be ratified, at the end of this year says ESA.

The deal may save the Artemis programme, which is under threat as a result of being 350 million ECUs ($280 million) over budget. No funds have been allocated for its originally intended Ariane 5 launch in 1997. The Alenia Spazio-built satellite will be used to demonstrate laser intersatellite links, L-band mobile communications and data-relay payloads.

Other areas of co-operation will include data access from, and the use of, each nation's communications and Earth-observation satellites. Those could include Japan's Adeos satellite, technological exchanges on the H2 and Ariane 5 automated transfer-vehicle programmes, and the sharing of space-station utilities.