The reservations made in 1996 by Space Systems/Loral for eight satellites to be launched into geostationary orbit by the Japanese H2 booster will not be translated into business for the new H2A launcher, Japan's Rocket Systems (RSC) has confirmed.

Hughes Electronics had already cancelled 10 reservations in 2000, receiving a $36 million refund. This is likely to be followed by Loral cancelling its eight remaining reservations out of an original 10, even though the company may end up losing its deposit, says RSC. Loral received a $7.5 million refund when it cancelled two launches in December 2000.

The prices attached to the 1996 contracts are no longer viable given the worldwide reduction in commercial launch charges. The only firm commercial launch contract for the H2A, other than national space agency flights, is to launch the MTSAT meteorological and navigation satellite next year.

Meanwhile, Japan's National Space Development Agency is to proceed with the development of an upgrade to the H2A. The H2A2024 comprises the original H2A202 version with four instead of two strap-on solid rocket motors, plus optional dual small solid boosters as flown on the H2A2022. The new version will fly in 2004. Later planned upgrades include the H2A212, an H2A202 with an additional first stage attached, and the as-yet unfunded H2A222 with two common core strap-on stages.

Source: Flight International