THE THIRD LAUNCH of Japan's H2 booster has been delayed from 22 February by a propellant leak in an attitude-control-system pipe aboard the Space Flyer Unit (SFU).

The flight of the SFU, with the geostationary meteorological satellite, GMS 5, will be delayed until August unless launch restrictions forced by the Japanese fishing industry can be waived. Launches are restricted to January-February and August-September each year in response to fears that prime fishing areas could be disturbed by the space industry activity .

If the SFU is delayed, its free-flying experimentation programme will be shortened, to allow it to be retrieved as scheduled by the Space Shuttle STS 72 in November.

Japan's space budget has been increased to $2.29 billion, with $65 million allocated to the H2 spaceplane (Flight International, 8-14 February).

Source: Flight International